Imagine someone with Jane Goodall’s observational powers coming from outer space to observe us for a few days.
Let’s narrow this alien’s study down to something relatively simple. Our imaginary alien doesn’t have time to report on Earth’s progress toward peace, justice, and environmental balance. Our imaginary alien doesn’t even have time to cast her gaze across the whole planet.
Instead, the alien watches a few children in a typical American suburb before filing this report. (Alien disclaimer: this report isn’t representational of all humans or all time spans on Earth.)
How to Impede Humanity
Each human is born with vast potential which unfolds in ways unique to that person’s talents and experiences. Human culture starts immediately to prevent that newborn’s potential from being fully realized.
The smallest humans are kept for much of their waking day in devices called car seats, booster seats, high chairs, playpens, cribs and strollers. Without sufficient and varied movement, learning can be impeded.
They are kept indoors most of the time. This limits their vision, their sense of connectedness, and their happiness.
Instead of foods harvested directly from nearby sources, the taste preferences of these small humans are developed on diets of lower nutrient but more expensive packaged substances. The health effects of these foods is beyond the scope of this report. It is, however, noted that transporting and purchasing these foods has an economic impact on the families of these small humans.
Humans are a people of story and image. As small humans get older they more readily absorb the lessons surrounding them from such objects as billboards, magazines, television, video games, and toys. These stories and images teach humans that success and happiness come through power, the right possessions, perfect appearance, rare skill, and of course, wealth. Small humans learn this quickly.
For example, appearance. They are repeatedly exposed to images of impossible bodies. Note evidence—-a process called retouching applied to human Jennifer Anniston and to humans Twiggy and Keira Knightley. As a result, five year old females judge their bodies harshly. By what humans call adolescence, 92 percent of females are unhappy with their bodily appearance.
Males also experience self-loathing due to impossible body images and behavior of heroes in movies, video games, and comics.
Movies, television, politics, and pundits teach small humans that the world is more violent than it is and games teach them that aggression is the best response.
The whole market-driven culture pushes materialistic values on young humans, which can leave them depressed, anxious and unhappy when they most need the powerful boost of optimism.
Even though young humans are perfectly suited to learn in ways matched to their abilities and interests without coercion, even though humanity has evolved throughout time by learning directly from wisdom-bearers in their own fields, these youth are put in institutions called schools. There each young human is judged by pre-determined standards. A large percentage don’t measure up.
It has been determined that the primary need of young humans is for self-expression, reasonably consistent guidance, and what on Earth is called love.
It is beyond the scope of this field report to discuss all the factors impeding humans but this observer notes that humanity flourishes due in large part to the overwhelming ability of human families to raise children using tools of kindness, laughter, and true affection. These behaviors are observed every moment, shared freely. This seems to be the essence of this species, so the report overall views humanity’s progress as positive.
(We prefer, however, that humans stick to their own planet. See the following video update.)
Image courtesy of Jean Kern’s flickr photostream
2 thoughts on “If Jane Goodall Were An Alien”
Excellent article, Laura. What a amazing perspective. While we do use devices to hem our children in for safety, easing our time to multi-task, etc., I don’t think we realize how we are stunting our young minds from experiencing all God has to offer as well as the joys and pitfalls of exploration. Those moments must be nurtured and developed. Very thought-provoking! Thanks!
Wow! You’ve definitely given your readers lots of food for thought. Thanks for sharing this.