Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We do come to this world with something...

When I was a kid, I took home a strayed cat of only few days old. Its mom was missing, believed to be dead of a traffic accident or whatever reason. Out of sympthay for being a cat-lover who didn’t want to see that poor little thing died in cold or of hunger, I brought it home with care. I remember that the kitten had still got skin membrane of some sorts that covered its eyes. After it got to our shack, my sis and I took care of it and so on. For most cat owners, they should know that when their cats finished with their ‘number 1’ or ‘number 2’, wherever they did, the cats always do few scratching with its paws back and forth as a ‘clean-up’ action to cover excretion with soil or hay. I’ve seen tigers do the same thing in documentary films. House cat does the same thing even it was not using sandbox or doing that in the garden. In fact, my cat was doing that in a toilet bowl. At that time when I was a kid, I wasn’t thinking much about that. However, thinking back then, one thing for sure was that my cat exhibited that behavior out of its own natural instinct rather than being taught. Cos, it was an orphan, and there is no way it learnt that from any other cats. Come to think of it, it is kinda strange…. A cat licked its fur, it paws, etc with its rough tongue as a way to clean itself could be quite natural, I can understand that as a natural behavior to clean ‘ITS’ body parts. However, that ‘scratching’ behavior after number 1 or 2 has nothing to do about taking care of its own body. In my opinion, it is actually a different type of behavior. So, I conclude that that behavior must be something genetic that cats are borned with!

I mentioned my cat here is because of my young son’s recent behaviors that got me thinking. Well, my son doesn’t scratch anything after poo poo. But the point that I want to make is that not everything about our behaviors are taught. Though people say that all babies are like blank sheet of paper after they leave their mother’s wounds, babies interact with the world and learn, they then exhibit their behaviors and build up their characters as a result. I think this is a nice school of thought, I’m not exactly buying this completely. Cuz, I do think that we all do come to this world with something in our head that would strongly affect how we behave.

I’m no scientist, and I don’t and perhaps won’t ever be able to prove what I just said scientifically. As popular beliefs, there are ways to predict the inborn traits of characters. One way is on the paranormal side of using astrology (i.e.based on the birth date, place, and time to predict what kind of person he/she is) or through some reincarnation studies (i.e. via some psychics to trace what kind of karma from previous life would affect the current one). There is an belief that the characters of the baby’s parents, grandparents, or great grandparents may have impact to baby’s behavior through inheritance of some sorts. For me, these beliefs are not contradictive, as the truth may be by compromising themselves. Nevertheless, based on what I see in my son, I really think that the foundation of our character is very likely to be something that we are born with. That would be what we call the ‘inherited potentials’. They are just there like’seeds’ in the ground. However, having those potentials doesn’t mean that they could be realized. However, if the ‘weather’ is right, those ‘seeds’ will sprout. I’m not sure if this is a good analogy.

Though my son is still very young, I can already see what kind of ‘seed’ has already sprouted. I don’t think it can be uprooted. I can only try my best to make it grow the preferred way. Cuz, characters are not absolutely good or bad. Some of them are like double-edged swords, you just need to handle it properly. Let a person like to throw things in anger, if he can practice the throwing to make it into a skill, maybe he will become a good baseball player! Who knows? Anyway, theory or belief are in place, the difficult part is always about execution. Huh, it is tough to be a parent!....

5 comments:

gweipo said...

have a listen to Steven Pinker's talk on his new book " The blank slate" on TED Talks - you do have a scientific point.
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/steven_pinker_chalks_it_up_to_the_blank_slate.html

Joel said...

Thanks Gweipo, I will check it out when I've chance.

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