Why can people become unreasonable, rebellious and destructive?

Rebellion is part of growing up

2 girls protesting for free energy
The “normal” form of protest

It is normal that in our youth we rebel against the the structures which have been imposed on us by our parents and our immediate environment. It is part of the developmental process and it is necessary to begin our own personal journey of individuation. If this rebellion persists and reaches levels of real violence as opposed to the “normal” teenage hassles, we need to ask ourselves what the reasons are for it, especially when property and people are wilfully damaged.

The “fashion” of “fighting” against the “establishment” began in the late 60ies, at least in Germany, where I grew up. The demonstrations in Berlin ended in shootings, providing to the political left some hero for further use in their ideological war against the state and all people who were suspected of holding power. The radicals pretended to be cool and tough by shouting slogans, burning flags, sometimes cars, and by fighting with the police. But, then and now, are they really what they pretend to be?


The Story of my Ex – Fighting Against (what?)

In the early 70ies I was newly married to a young man who was lucky enough to already earn good money as an architect. But his head was still full of these strange ideas and beliefs which he had picked up in University: the need to “fight against the establishment” and for the “proletariat”. Being the son of medical doctors, he himself actually was part of the “establishment” that he pretended to be fighting against by – stealing! Stealing from the office, from restaurants and hotels and in bookshops – where he finally was caught by the police. You should have seen this “righteous” man when he came home and confessed what had happened. No hero anymore fighting for the oppressed, but trembling with fear of being punished and of his future career being impacted by being sentenced.

The temptation to act out the erroneous beliefs

Nobody was really damaged greatly by his deeds, it was first of all the ethical component in his thoughts and behavior. My warnings had been dismissed for years that stealing was just not right, even when a bookshop has an owner who earns some money by selling books, or even when a boss gets more money than a young employee. His black-and-white thoughts created his arguments to justify his own misbehavior and he extracted a strange “right” out of the income-difference – and “Class difference”, of course, – to damage others. It even seemed to be his duty to do so, in order to “help the lower classes”, the same shallow arguments which we hear today, again.  Well, no, these were only rationalisations for a game which he should have played in earlier times, as a boy at home, but not as an adult in society.


Why do people adhere to fascinating, but wrong ideas?

So what makes people believe such weird things and act with extreme radicalism against property and people without any sign of recognition that what they are doing is WRONG, unless they are caught and convicted, and maybe not even then? They are not at all interested in helping the people which they pretend to fight for. They are acting out – dangerously – what they have missed in their own childhood and youth.


Very interesting in this regard is the conversation of Stefan Molyneux with an ex-Antifa fighter who openly talks about his story, his upbringing, his attraction to the radical left. He describes the culture and the actions there and his long journey to arrive to the understanding that they were, by no means, justified and “right” as he had been willing to believe before, and for so many years.


Boys Need Fathers

Boys need the guidance of men when they grow up. Boys coming from families without fathers or with dysfunctional fathers are much more likely to become extremist “heroes” than those who had fathers to teach them to be men.

a men swinging a boy in the air
Fathers and their sons

The liberation of women – which I really appreciate – and the subsidies of the state for single moms have created a situation where many women prefer to raise their children without their fathers. And that is a bad idea, at least as regards the psychological health of the children, males and females alike. I don’t say that a woman needs to stick with the father of her children no matter what, as it was for such a long time. What I DO say is that – understandably – women in their new freedom exaggerate in egocentrism and don’t properly consider the psychological needs of their children. They actually continue adhering to the very traditional belief that only the material needs are important to be met in a child’s life – while they are thinking to be very progressive and evolved. Not reall


The Fatherless Generations

3 soldiers with hands up
After the war how to live now?

Coming back to my ex-husband. He was born in the first years of WWII, no fathers around and the mothers busy finding ways to survive. His father came home from war, but probably, as all people of that generation, unable to elaborate his own tragic experience. So the physical presence of a father in the house was not a guarantee for the children to have a “father” who would play the role they needed for their healthy development. A whole generation grew up fatherless and so they didn’t learn what is “right and wrong” in life, the classical role of fathers. Children need to know where the boundaries are. When they haven’t learned that when young they have a lot of problems in adult life which we could roughly describe as either depression or aggressivity and violence.


What Steve Reports About Antifa

That’s what connects the stealing of my ex-husband with the Antifa terrorists and the Social Justice Warriors: they have never learned to find their rightful place in society and they are full of illusions about themselves, the world and their power to do whatever they want to do.

Colored Spiral: The Levels of Development
The Levels of Development

In terms of “Integral Theory” or “Spiral Dynamics”: they are stuck in the “red” egocentric warrior stage. They haven’t learned to adapt to society – which is a necessary stage in the growing-up process – and so they never could transcend it and grow out of it into a person who has integrated the rules, without being any longer totally conditioned by them. In other words: they never have grown into a true rational stage where they would be able to properly decide what to do and what not. Instead they use rational language to justify their irrational behavior. This phenomenon is called “rationalization”. It means roughly that: you find a string of arguments after the fact to make your actions appear “right”, but you didn’t think your behavior thoroughly through before you acted it out.


Missing or unhealthy stages in personal development: the reason for disaster.

If it is the ultra right or the ultra left or any other group ready to use violence against objects, animals and people, they basically are children in their psychological development and their belonging to the group gives them what they lacked otherwise. They do everything to belong and to be valued in that group, hence the absurd violence in speech and action of the individuals. Their behavior is the response to what they didn’t get in childhood: belonging and recognition as a human being. It is as easy as that to understand, but surely not to handle and heal.


True Rationality Allows Freedom of Choice

a scale
The possibility to chose: seeing both sides clearly and the weight and impact they have for the future

For those who actually have succeeded in arriving at the rational stage of their personal development, like the guy named Steve in the above interview, it is possible to understand what is going wrong in the group and to find a way out. This certainly is very difficult and often dangerous because fundamentalist radicals don’t joke and bully and damage those whom they label “traitors°. History is full of evidence of that.

Congrats to Steve that he managed to get out of the group prison and to spread the word and inspire others to follow his steps – for their own personal good and for that of our society which has enough trouble with many other things apart from crazy dangerous never grown up children.

PS.In a future post I will try to outline the difference between men and women in their path to radicalism. The lack of the father seems to be more important in the boy’s socialisation, while women have still other dragons to slay.



Do we realise how precious LIFE is?

Life is precious, right?

How would our world look like if we really knew how precious LIFE is?

We are so much used to take life for granted, only

a seedling
Life is manifesting itself

when a baby is born we get excited about the miracle which coming into life represents; or, maybe, we get excited when we observe seeds sprouting and growing into huge plants. The enormous potential which enfolds in front of our eyes; yes, we might still have a sense of awe and wonder.


dry leaves on green gras
Autumn – the metaphor for death and rebirth

Then there is the other side, the end of life, and we don’t want to go there too often. We try to avoid thinking about death and dying and only when we are directly confronted with it do we give it some attention, the minimum possible. For fear of being “pulled down” we neglect our human duties towards people at the end of their lives. We don’t go to visit them, we deny them the comfort of not being alone in this difficult transition time because we do not want to be reminded of our own inevitable end. By not thinking about it we imagine that the “problem” will disappear magically, that somehow we won’t die, anyway…

How we pass our life time

As a consequence we have little chance to become aware to what extent our life is precious. We live it, daily, dealing with all sorts of distractions, often disguised as “important”, we are wondering how the next day will unfold: will it be as hot as today? Will it finally rain and end the severe drought? Will the President finally become a reasonable person? Will the terrorists attack again? Will I be safe? – Never ending questions which keep our thoughts and emotions occupied. We put our attention mainly on what doesn’t work, what should be better – and often we have a naive and sometimes also a can-do idea of how we can create a better world for ourselves.


So most of our time we are occupied – and preoccupied. And most of our time we don’t really LIVE our lives in the sense of being fully present to ourselves and our experience. We try to get out of the “experience” as soon as possible, especially when it is a bad one, and then we have something to tell to others.

By telling our stories we, again, most of the time are not present to ourselves and our precious lives. We bridge the waiting for the horrible hours, days, months or years to end – by finding something which replaces the direct confrontation with LIVING.


two people on two nearby benches
Waiting Alone Together

I wrote about the many ways of WAITING which seems to be the main occupation of living creatures as soon as they have some sense of time. (Read it here). Then there are some moments when the stream of waiting is interrupted: a sudden smell of roses,

a rose fence
Passing by a rose fence re-evokes pleasant past times

a flashing image of a happy moment in the past, a short and meaningful eye contact with somebody,  a musical line filling you with joy, the awkward attempts of a baby or young animal to walk: many snapshots which can wake us up from the dull routine of the passing hours until tonight, tomorrow, next year, some distant day from which we expect salvation.

Becoming more present – but not too much, please!

Yes, we can learn to be more present to ourselves and what our experience is, but it actually is a necessity that for the most part of our days we are acting on autopilot. We couldn’t live otherwise.

a desihn of a person walking, falling, getting up again
Walking, falling, getting up again

Imagine if you needed to pay attention to every movement of your body, to every step while you walk. When you try to do that, just for fun, with intense attention, you end up stumbling over your own feet. It makes a lot of sense that we automate much of our behaviors, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to be attentive to what is going on around us. And even there: we are continuously making choices regarding what we notice and what not, what is important enough to pass through our perceptual filters and what we can ignore – which actually is most of what surrounds us. Not being able to ignore irrelevant things, like not being able to forget, is a curse to humans which makes their lives miserable by the overload of endless input into their sensorial system.


So let’s be grateful that we are not always aware of everything.


This doesn’t mean, though, to push away those things which are important to be included in our awareness. And maybe the biggest one is the recognition of the preciousness of life and the gratitude we need to nurture for being alive, still alive and able to enjoy and to suffer, to give and to receive, to be a full human being.

That’s what inspired me to write this post:

A badger lying on the road
The badger on the road

The reason for this post was a brief experience of the past few days. Last Sunday we went on a bike ride. There was a badger lying on the road. I hate when cars run over animals when lying dead on the road. This one was at the side but we wanted to put it into the nearby field and give it the due respect by this mini-ritual of a burial. Coming nearer we realized that it was not dead. It’s breath moved his chest, up and down, it seemed to sleep peacefully. But it was hurt, obviously, and destined to die.

What is the RIGHT thing to do here?

What to do? From an ethical point of view, but also from a practical one? The mind says: the best thing is to end its suffering. But how? Would you be able to roll over it with your car? Yes, I know, at the moment it is fashion among the terrorist to run over people with their trucks. How can they do THAT? And could you do it, even if it is “only” an animal? Well, we didn’t have that choice while traveling on bike. What else? Hitting it with a stick? I once tried to kill a badly injured duck, and I did it so unskilfully that it haunted me for months because of the extra suffering I had created for the animal, despite my intention to help.


An opossum showing its teeth
Better not get bitten by teeth like that!

We didn’t even dare to lift the badger up to carry it away, to a shady place, to die without being burnt by the hot summer sun. We feared that it could come to life again and we would become the target of its defense. Would you risk the bite of a strong wild animal? Obviously, we decided to let it be there, breathing quietly lying on the shoulder of the road in the hot sun – and I felt a wave of compassion for this creature and the impossibility of helping.


person in armchair, depressed
Sometimes we need to let go

It is not easy, at least for me, to have to tolerate the idea that there is nothing I can do and that I need to let other creatures, whether animals or humans, go through their destiny path, no matter if self-created or not. It is not easy to watch people run into their misfortune which you, from the outside, can see as not inevitable. But how can you tell them, or help them, to change, to come out of it, to embrace life again by transforming their habits and belief systems? I tried it once, desperately, with an ex-husband, until I finally understood that there was nothing I could do to change his life. The only thing I could do was to change my own life which had become quite miserable while I lived within that relationship. I had to let go of the sense of duty, the idea that I am responsible for the other person (a trait which many women cultivate) and that the best thing for both of us was a total separation with no regrets.


Butterfly on pink flower
A butterfly – the symbol of transformation into something alive and beautiful

Easily said, not so easily done. But fortunately I had many experiences with animals here on my farm,  similar to that one with the badger, and so I knew I could do it. I have chosen LIFE over a covert death while still alive. And I have also understood how the fear of our physical death brings us into situations where we do not live our lives, where we are caught in tragedy and distraction which keeps us away from the really important things in life: compassion, love and presence to our experience.


Have you noticed that both our worlds have changed?

That is, both the world outside us and the world within us. Ken Wilber wasn’t the first to discover this phenomenon, but he’s the one who articulated it to me.  And for that I am grateful, not simply for the realization itself but also for the difference that knowing that, deeply knowing that, is making in my life. Continue reading “Have you noticed that both our worlds have changed?”

Human development and the fascinating power of music

The World is Sound – Nada Brahma

Music is a innate capacity of humans. It is the most fundamental means for our expression, especially when we use our voice, and it has the power to influence our whole being.

Music develops alongside humans

Along with our social-psychological development, music too has developed over the centuries. It is a real pleasure to meet the young composer Samuel Andreyev in this interview with Jordan Peterson where they explore together the power of music and the development it has taken up to the present. Even for non-musicians this conversation is quite understandable – and a musician also gains a expanded perspective.

This happened certainly with me. I was very delighted with the analysis and could confirm from my own experience what these two intelligent and open minds were talking about.

Jordan Peterson in conversation with the composer Samuel Andreyev


My experience as a musician

I am a classically trained singer and my main interest has always been classical music. I always enjoyed the music, from the middle ages to the early 20th century – but there it stopped for me. My experience of singing in a professional choir taught me how difficult it is to study pieces by 12-tone composers like Webern, Schönberg or those of the sixties like Penderecki and others. Those concerts had a certain fascination as sound experiences – but is it really worth all this huge amount of preparation? I always decided NO for myself – maybe only because of my lack of an absolute ear (perfect pitch) – which would have made singing these pieces so much easier?

How we learn to hear and expand our perception

One thing I noticed though – and it was addressed also by Samuel Andreyev in the interview above: The more you study a piece, whatever music it is, the more you get familiar with it and it becomes “your” music. This is the point where your interpretation of the piece will come from inside you rather than just a repetition of the ideas of someone else. When we really understand the music and own it by continuous practice, it becomes familiar and we begin to really enjoy it – which often was not the case when we encountered it the first time.

What sounds GOOD to our ears?

This is the reason for a continuous expansion of our ability to hear and accept newness in music. The acceptance of what sounds “good” has developed from total harmony (octaves), to fifths and up to all the harmonic intervals. Today it is almost unimaginable that once a third had been considered a dissonance! Our perception of what we hear as consonance or dissonance has developed until today when we can enjoy whole clusters of adjacent sounds. This is just a harmony of a higher level – as all these notes appear, sooner or later, on the scale of the harmonics of the basic note.

Personal development and enjoyment of music 

In short: I realized that, today, my ear has developed so far as to accept music which I had dismissed totally 30 years ago. That doesn’t mean that all music is “good” which is offered today. Good music has a certain felt attraction. Maybe not at first hearing. “Hear it 10 times and then find out what you feel about it!” This is also the recommendation by the composer Samuel Andreyev.

When you listen to his music – especially after having watched his conversation with Jordan Peterson – you probably will find it very attractive, or at least interesting and well worth listening to!