The "Social Tinder Box"

“ IT ends…TO BE –or- as a Tale …”

To conceive the “mind-set” /the psychological make-up/ of our elite, or to contain the “social tinder box” on which Ethiopia is sitting, I feel it helps a lot to add in our analysis the dimension of, what is known today as “neuro-politics”(“mirror neurons” a very recent discovery, which can be related to Rene Girard’s mimesis theory at the inter-personal and the cultural level) , what is well discussed in the following paper.

“The role of socio-cultural variables in influencing psychopathology (Marsella and Yamada, 2007) is now accepted, and I`m proposing here that it would be instructive to examine whether certain pathogenic cultural factors explain the etiology of what Ive tentatively labeled a societal empathy deficit disorder (SEDD). In their well-documented discussion of psychopathy as a disorder characterized by callousness and lack of empathy, Blair and Blair (2009) discuss the existence of a population that has been subject to insufficient moral socialization. Such individuals reveal an absence of empathic response to the distress of others, an impaired reaction to “moral transgressions.” What is striking here, at least to me, is the ascription of these behaviors to a subset of outliers and not to the larger society, the implicit message being that the latters everyday behavior is well within the “normal” range.”.

I feel that the Ethiopian Elite today are suffering more from this “SEDD” rather than the people at large, since they /the elite/ are at the far edge of the cultural body conscious of their own class/ethnic-national benefits counteracting the natural human predisposition for empathy common to all irrespective of the particular sectional affiliation, not to mention their medial and cultural complicity with the alienating “individualism” of post modernity as opposed to individual autonomy and sovereignty.

Nonetheless, even if there are a lot of facts to the contrary, what should sustain us in our strategic optimism is the fact of being hardwired for empathy as a human being: The species can’t otherwise exist in the long run!

“Given the universality of our biological predisposition toward empathy, we now have both a potent baseline and the potential for accumulating robust empirical evidence upon which to draw further conclusions about this critically important issue within neuroscience. In the process we might create environments that enhance the flourishing of empathy, the foundation of our moral sense”.*1)

Let us hope; if “Tunisia” comes we can thus speculate on this fact.

Still, be IT what it be, given the following “findings”, it is important to be aware of given “constants”, which take time for transformations. With this awareness, harmonizing different perspectives for a common ground with every section happy to make a progress under its own skin and a common body, which cannot be denied since it is a given (socio-) natural reality, is not a difficult task.

Initial findings, including some on empathy, are intriguing and at the apex of neuroscience research. Recent studies using fMRI and magneto-ecephalography (MEG) have established that cultural constructs shape the microstructure of the brain and this culturing of the neural signature begins in early childhood and continues into adolescence and early adulthood (Choudhury, 2009; Choudhury and Kirmayer, 2009; Turner and Whitehead, 2008).”

“Thereafter the brain and mind seek to create congruence between external realities and these newly existing internal structures and there is more resistance to change”*1).

At last…It is worth noting that…”Hebbs rule (1949)”*1) of thumb is more than a century old :

“The neurons that fire together wire together”! *1)

*1) All quotations are from the same essay:

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