Estonia bans corporal punishment – the list grows!!

filename-tallinn-capitalCongratulations to the Estonian parliament for making it clear, through the law, that humans are not for hitting – at any age.  Fantastic for Estonian kids, they can now live free of parental blows, like most other European children. Today, it is against the law in almost all of Europe for a parent, or anyone, ever to hit a child. In Australia we call it ‘discipline’. In most of the developed world, and much of the developing world, they call it ‘abuse’.

That makes 45 countries that protect children from being smacked, and a further 45 that have made a commitment to introducing this protection. 90 nations that GET IT (out of a total of 196). Almost half!!    (Australia nowhere to be seen yet).

Posted in World News | Leave a comment

BLOODFUN – When Violence is Entertainment

imagesToday thousands of Australians are celebrating that K-Mart and Target have stopped selling the viciously violent                       Grand Theft Auto-5 (GTA5). Petitioners stared, the retailers blinked.

This game won its fame for being technologically and creatively brilliant, bringing the gory detail of human sadism to new heights, and treating female subjects like sex-toys and garbage.

Victory? Mmm. Not sure.

Its not just the game. You should have seen what followed it. News of the success of this petition brought forth a flood of outraged young gamers, almost all – but not all!! – young men. Make no mistake, petitioners, you have pissed these guys off, big time. Their comments sound like this: ‘Everyone who signed this disgusts me’, ‘You idiots need an education’, ‘Sad pathetic losers who cannot grasp the concept of reality and fiction’. The gamers had Mummy take their toys away – and they are angrier than the women protesting the gamification of rape.

Look around. The GTA5 debate has brought the love of interactive rape-and-smash fantasy out into the open, it is EVERYWHERE, and it is PASSIONATE. I still haven’t recovered. Its not the shock of seeing what was in GTA5. It was the shock of seeing the fervent devotion that legions of young fans will give it, they fight for the right to stay hooked to this machine, they will attack you for threatening their pleasure. Wow!

It’s just a game, they say. Its just fantasy, they say. So…..guys, take a big look at what your fantasies are. What is your attraction to that kind of fantasy? If you give half a damn about yourselves, then be curious about WHY you get excited by bloodfun, smashing bone, rape. C’mon! Why is that such a turn on for you? And, by the way, you know full well you are not alone with your lust for onscreen splatter and humiliation.

Two-thousand years ago, as a Roman dad, you take the wife and kids, along with tens of thousands of other punters, down to the Coliseum to watch live children being ripped apart by hyenas, or gladiator-slaves hacking each others’ body parts. You cheer together, eat Roman popcorn and enjoy the sunshine. Sunday fun.

A few hundred years ago, as a European dad, anywhere in Europe, you take the kids down to the public square to watch live cats or dogs being held over flames, to go woo-hoo at the flogging of humans in bondage and at group hangings, like housewives at Oprah. In the mosh pit, the men had hard-ons. The women hooted, laughed and clapped. Part of the shared joy was in hurling insults and rotten veggies at the bound prisoners; the receptacles of the townsfolk’s self-loathing. Sunday fun.

Today, we call it ‘torture’. For most of human recorded history, we called it ‘entertainment’. I thought this was progress. I’m discovering just how many people revile this as ‘political correctness’. We are more delicate now. We try to disinfect by distancing, making reality seem less real. We manufacture the humans we want to run down with our vans. Its exciting, isn’t it?

And so, here am I, like most of us, up until a few years ago soaking up Schwarzenegger face-punching movies with a bowl of chips. Loving it when the guy I have been manipulated into hating gets his arse kicked hard at the end. Air-punching, I feel the momentary release course through my veins. If I can’t have my revenge on all those who have hurt and humiliated me, then the fantasy of vicarious revenge will have to do. God, it feels good, doesn’t it? For a second, my pain has gone. Until the next movie.

And so, we have demonstrated the power of togetherness, the power of consumers, to change the marketplace, to disable those who profit from our children’s desperate unresolved rage. Remember that. Consumers are the new government, and with this newfound power we can even stop climate change. But don’t think we have done anything to ease the lust for revenge-entertainment. Our people are hurt, in despair, and they don’t know it.

Personally, I am not worried about the fact that so many of us are attracted to onscreen violence. What frightens the hell out of me is that almost everyone treats this as normal. Like: ‘Don’t give it another thought’ ‘ It’s just kids being kids’ ‘ It’s not reality’ ‘ They are just playing’ On and on go the petty rationalizations. I’m not frightened of violence, as much as I am terrified of naivety, denial. Stupidity, actually.

It’s time. It is time to face up to why so many need to gain pleasure and release from virtual bashings. We should also ask why so many people can enjoy the spills and thrills and wow factor, without any visceral disgust for the repeated offers to commit onscreen sadism.

Detachment. Someone has pulled the plug on human empathy. Revenge. Both.

Not one iota of this broiling anger and anesthetized humanity has changed because we managed to restrain two big salivating retailers.

By profiting and exploiting the most wounded aspects of the human condition, the makers of GTA5 – and of the massive list of bloodfun games that share the shelves – are certainly making things worse for everyone. But the game makers and sellers are definitely not the root of the problem. To blame the writers rings as hollow as blaming heavy metal music for school shootings in America. Every deflection postpones a real solution, and in the end, might cost lives.

We need to ask: ‘What has been done to us? What has been done to our children?’ We know with unprecedented clarity today that nobody is born genetically determined for viciousness. What has been done to us all? How were we, and our children, made to feel so small? So embittered? Who humiliated us? What happened in that humidi-crib, that labour-ward, that bedroom? What happened in that yard, in that classroom? What happened in that church, in that synagogue, in that mosque? Where were our children diminished, shamed, rendered helpless, infuriated? When gamers press the ‘rape’ button…do we dare to ask: who are they really paying back?

It takes a lot of courage to ask that kind of question, to seek that kind of honesty. Do we have the guts to ask it of ourselves? Who stomped on us? Why do we get this thrill from turning the tables, and becoming the stompers onscreen? Our compulsive behaviors and our fantasy-lives give vital clues about our personal histories. Something inside wants and needs healing, release. Blowing it off with a movie or game is only momentary relief, a rush…but it kicks the can down the road and does not serve us at all in the end.

I’m glad K-Mart and Target were swayed (though it was for profit, not for love). But if all that was achieved was a market ban, then none of this problem has shifted, not one bit. The hurt is still there, the anger continues under the surface. The ban did not heal, it created resentment.

For sure, parenting and education have evolved over the decades and centuries, quite a lot. But we still shame and humiliate, we still punish and manipulate. We neglect children’s emotional needs wholesale. We block their aspirations. We enculturate them. They are angry. We better listen.

Posted in Empowerment/Activism, World News | 4 Comments

The Peace Code in the Human Brain – my talk at TedX, Pittwater, Australia

10487183_310506652444596_8512592787649884743_nThis is why I do the work that I do. This is at the heart of what drives me. I hope you enjoy my TedX talk, it is my best brief condensation of a big message. Sadly the sound quality is a bit dodgy, there is a tiny bit of drop-out. But the message is intact, and it was a privilege to contribute to this powerful international discourse, in our own beloved backyard.

I encourage you to go on and listen to some of the other speakers, there were some incredible people there with fantastic things to say! Here it is – click!

Posted in Educational, Empowerment/Activism, Events, Uplifting/Inspiring | 1 Comment

Argentina: next to ban the smack!

Argentine boyViva Argentina, brother nation to my country of birth, Uruguay. The 41st nation to put a legislative stop to the punishment of children. It seems like only yesterday Latin America was all macho, patriarchal, traditionalist-Catholic and THEREFORE:..built upon the cultural bedrock of punishment. A euphemism for revenge, punishment is at the heart of authoritarianism – as in the home; so in politics.      7 nations now in Latin America say no to punishment, and mean it.    Don’t for a moment think that this will only benefit Argentine kids.   These changes touch and begin to transform the whole world.   Macro psychology comes from micro psychology.  When punishment goes, so will war.    When “do as you are told, or else!” goes, so will dictatorship.     There is a clue here, about what is needed in the Middle East.    What is needed throughout Africa.     What is needed in Australia and in USA.

Posted in World News | 1 Comment

Bolivia is next to ban corporal punishment

Bolivian GirlThe sixth Latin American nation, and the 42nd in the world to lay down its arms and take the violence out of parenting. Smacking a child is now illegal, at home and at school.
Felicitaciones, Bolivia! A great day for South American children. Every year, several more nations join. Australia and USA seem to be vying for last place…

Posted in World News | Leave a comment

Aussie Mums run baby-sleep trainer out of town

thumbJust when you thought controlled-crying was sinking into the past, it makes a comeback in Australia – and a pretty scary one, at that. Beats me how one sworn to uphold the Hippocratic oath can train a Mother to cold-shoulder her wailing child. Somehow, these people just keep coming back.

But this time, this peddler was not prepared for what awaited him – and neither were his promoters. A wave of furious mothers, a deluge of outraged calls and mail. Such was the backlash that this doctor’s gig at a Melbourne Baby Expo was canceled. Read about it HERE.

Is this a sign of the times? Is the Maternal asserting a new place in our baby-phobic society? Watching these well-organized Mothers triumph over this new horror; I was moved to pen the following words:

“So, here we are again, yet another charmer in a white coat promising broken and desperate mothers a night of healing rest, guilt free – while 10,000 babies are consigned to scream in Solitary Confinement; for having the temerity to ‘cry too much’.

Helping mothers is not on the agenda in a free-market society. Quarantining babies until they stop acting like babies, that is the low hanging fruit. No questions asked.

What is wrong with this picture? Does it not seem a little eerie that we treat this as an issue of “science”? For sure, agenda-driven junk science does need to be exposed and media jockeys need to be educated. But honestly, do we need a laboratory report to tell us it is OK to respond to a child? What else? Do we wait for test results to confirm that we need a hug? Do we argue the statistical significance of our need to breathe clean air? Do we need to cite medical journals to endorse our urge to eat?

How did we become so detached from our own feelings, so detached from one another? First we ask the good doctor if our baby’s wail means anything. And to defend love, we must present papers from peer reviewed journals. Is this what has become of us, in this Attention-Deficit Society? Detachment is all around us, it is the default setting; we who were left to ‘cry it out’ on the front porch, we grow up to dissect human vulnerability like an intellectual parlor game.

How small were we made to feel; shamed and brow-beaten in our suburbs and our school halls? “Because I told you so!”, they said to us, with one voice. And we carry this smallness inside, we take counsel without question from the modern Priest: He that wears the Stethoscope – “because he told us so”.

Look around. We are the ‘normal’. We are the ‘healthy’. We are the ‘good’. The ‘good society’ we built by silencing babies and children – is this what we want to pass-on to our young? What if we let the noisy Caesars of Science babble among themselves, and all the while listen; deeply listen to what our hearts have been whispering all along?

The Press and the Priests bay for ‘proof’ that babies have feelings. Give it to them, there is plenty. In the home meanwhile, the heart laughs at ‘proof’. Go to the baby. And for love’s sake, be hugged.”

Posted in World News | 4 Comments

The Most Important Documentary I have ever seen

Unborn Child sucking thumbWow, wow, triple wow!!  I am not sure how to convey how blown-away I feel after watching this documentary online.  I dare say, turning-point times are here. Mainstream science is finally, REALLY understanding birth, bonding and breastfeeding: and why these form the very basis of human physical and psychological health.   This is no longer the whimsy of hippies.   The micro-biological genesis of human health has been irrefutably traced back to the critical moments during and after birth.      No exaggeration: the future of human civilization depends on naturalizing birth, bonding and baby-feeding.       The film is called:  ‘MicroBirth’.   It brings together a range of experts from Neurotoxicology, Neurobiology, Midwifery and more.         To stream the movie or buy the DVD, go to this website. 

If you feel as I do about the massive implications of this movie, please: share it far and wide!

I wish you peace, pleasure and connectedness.

Posted in Educational | Leave a comment

Good news about Plastic – for a change!

plastic-wasteCalifornia has become the first American state to ban plastic bags completely. The state government did what it was supposed to do, stand up for ‘We The People’ and prevail against all the bullying it got from plastic bag manufacturers. The environment – and all the beings that live on it – will breathe a sigh of relief. There is no reason why the rest of the world can’t follow suit. Just a little political will!   CLICK

Meanwhile, researchers are racing (successfully!) to develop more and more sustainable and biodegradable polymers for every conceivable application. Here is just one of the centers of research and development: CLICK

The era of plastic rubbish is facing its end. Let’s hope this comes fast enough before too much irreversible damage has been done to the environment.

Posted in World News | Leave a comment

One Fine Day on Byron Bay FM Radio….

Creating_habitat_for_wildlife_such_as_the_Brushtail_possum_(8065737659)Reclining on cane lounges at the Tallow Beach Hotel, Sally Cusack and I took a verbal tour of the parenting terrain…how our children trigger our own childhood emotions, how the moment of our child’s birth transforms us, and… the role of wild animals as doulas!

The show is called Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond. Podcast for all eternity. (the ads are particularly, er… memorable!).

Got something important to do? Don’t do it! Procrastinate. Just sit back and click HERE. 

Posted in Educational, Uplifting/Inspiring | Leave a comment

My (free) Skype interview with Luminous Youth.

imagesIn this lively conversation with Erica Nettle-Chik of ‘Luminous Youth’, we talked about how changes in parenting and education are changing the world, we talked about the first five rites of passage in early childhood development, we talked about how some of our current social and international ills are symptoms of collective childhood wounding, we talked about parenting as social activism and cultural subversion, and we talked about cacao and Earl Gray tea. Sit back, sip your drink of choice, listen and (I hope!) enjoy.

And if you get a moment, I would love to hear your feelings and thoughts about this dialogue. I hope it touches you and inspires you in some way. Salud!

PS: Skype messed with audio and visual briefly a couple of times during the transmission. Don’t worry, it rights itself pretty quick.

CLICK HERE

Posted in Educational, Empowerment/Activism | Leave a comment