Ever since man has developed the neo mammalian cortex (neocortex) we have basically been killing it as a species. At least for the most part. Most often the thing that keeps us from committing heinous acts of passion is our ability to see consequences and imagine the effects of our actions before they happen. This is great for things like not murdering any one we are a little bit angry at and randomly taking things that don’t belong to us. It is also what allowed us to survive all the winters since. We have determined that storing food was a good idea, and also creating societies.
As a race so far so good. Though this same tendency has lead us to do some pretty off the wall things as well. Like consciously sacrifice crops, animals, and even other people. The religious context of sacrifice is always something that has intrigued me because it goes against our nature in many ways. We are always at ends with the now and the future. There is always the lingering question of “What will happen if…?” It goes against the idea that we talked about last month in the What’s the worst that could happen? article To combat the YOLO philosophy we realize that we don’t only live once, and each day is not lived independent of the preceding ones.
But this thinking can lead us to develop bad habits that counteract the lives we want to really live. These vices, can be small like smoking cigarettes , but they can have long term effects like causing deathly cancer. Our neocortex is wired to help us make these decisions but sometimes it needs help. We often instal self correcting mechanisms, like not purchasing cigarettes, to curb out behavior.
With the begging of the new year upon us there are tons of people committing to New Year’s Resolutions, little (or big) sacrifices that we hope will pay off at sometime in the future. This may be a diet plan, or a saving plan, quitting something, or starting something. The goals we set help us stay on course and get to where we want to be.
I am interested in learning about the different types of sacrifices, the mechanics of our brain, our society, and even our heart. Maybe with a little bit of insight we can learn a thing or two about the balance between the reptilian brain and the mammalian one. Maybe we can learn a little bit about ourselves and these god awful new years resolutions that defeat us this year.
Maybe, just maybe we can learn a little bit about how to overcome our vices and get a head start on being better people.. It will most definitely take work, but if we are willing to let go of the short term gain, we can have some lasting ones.