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A Little Controversy

Dr David, Editor / Publisher

I don't mind a little controversy. I figure if you're not upsetting someone, then you are not being adventurous enough.

My father, just starting out in real estate, young, skinny and Jewish, went to ask for his first loan. The staid Yankee banker (in Hartford, Connecticut there were then, and still are, real Yankees) informed him proudly, "I'll have you know that I've never given a bad loan from this bank;” one that wasn't repaid. My father retorted, "Then you are doing something wrong." There was too much money in the vault, not gaining interest for the bank. You have to risk. Even if you lose a few, with more circulating, your profit will be greater. I don't know that Dad changed the banker's lending policy, but he did get the loan.

Professor and psychologist Jordan Peterson is surrounded by controversy. Much of the controversy is due to his insistence that human beings are not blank slates; that we have neurological programming built into us. For example, he unabashedly asserts that boys and girls are different, and that those differences are not the result of how we are socially conditioned, and that this is an undisputed fact in the psychological literature. With this he draws down upon himself the ire of those who want you to believe that gender is a matter of choice. Those who want to believe that we can recreate the world in whatever form we like through social engineering (as the Russian Communists believed) don't like Jordan Peterson. Those who blame society (toxic patriarchy, white privilege, capitalism...) for the problems of the individual don't like him. He insists (through his mega-best selling book and larger than anyone's Youtube following) that the individual can, and should, better his or her own life.

As a man I think about sex and violence differently, and probably a lot more, than most women do. Dr Peterson claims that, no matter the subject, when two men are talking, worst comes to worst, it might come to blows. Without judgment he observes that the fact that this dynamic does not exist between men and women, changes the workplace.

Some months ago I was speaking with a sixty-something couple in the Saturday Market. The man is a very easy-going, non-aggressive person. I asserted that this possibility of physical aggression is implicit between males interacting. The wife was dubious. He contradicted her disbelief immediately and directly, telling her, "No. No. It's true."

I think that what is true for men and women is true for countries. Mexico has a different neurology than than does the US. Mexican society is wired differently. Certain actions mean different things south of the border. Take personal space. After eight years I am still getting used to people moving, standing and passing so close to me, and me to them. Up north such male to male physical proximity (outside of barrooms and rock concerts) would be taken as aggressiveness, as a threat.

I ride my bicycle daily. People ask me if it's hard riding on cobble-stones. I tell them that it's a lot easier than walking on them. Walking, if you are not outright off balance, then you are making adjustments with each step for the inclination of whatever stone or stones that you are stepping upon. It may be bumpy on a bicycle, but at least you are level. Then, when you are moving rapidly, the bumps even out a bit, as you skip across the troughs. Still I avoid cobble-stone streets, whenever I can, and try to ride on sidewalks when I can't.

Riding my bicycle up a sidewalk, I am always calming myself down as I get close to passing a guy. Now and then one will tell me that I should be riding in the street. But usually they just quietly, graciously move to the side to let me pass. It's nothing to the guy. But up in the States, up in the northeast I would get more aggressive responses. Southern hospitality is noted in the US. Maybe because we are farther south here in Mexico, we have even more hospitality.

Can I change my wiring? Can I become Mexican? I don't think so, but social conditioning has moderated my neurological programming; I used wonder why people were getting in my way while I was bicycling, but now I've realized that it isn't my way.

Further controversy accrues to Jordan Peterson for his ideas concerning women's greater presence in leadership roles in society, particularly in higher education. Women he asserts rank higher in nurturing and protecting the young than do men. He claims that the increased maternal attitude in universities, due women's greater presence, is responsible for the coddling of college students: think safe spaces, trigger warnings and a general prohibition of free speech if that speech might offend anyone. Watch this one minute video to get a sense of this issue.

With all due respect to maternal instincts, rough and tumble play is necessary to socialize males. Male or female, we need to be able to listen to people with ideas different than our own, whether that leads to accepting their ideas or defending ours, this is the essence of political discourse.

It's not uncommon for chimpanzees to attack and kill chimps in neighboring groups. That's the way we are hard-wired. You can't wish away our violent tendencies. Just yesterday here in Colonia Allende two persons were shot in a vehicle at 3:40 in the afternoon. One of them died.

Denying reality makes things worse. Just because you can imagine a better world, one free of violence or war, for example, does not mean that it is this world.

I hope that I am a little like my father, calling it like he saw it there with the banker and everywhere else. I hope I am a little like Jordan Peterson, who, despite what his critics claim, is not pushing a political agenda. He's just being scientific, asking us, in a manner unbiased by political correctness, to put the facts on the table and have a discussion.

Now, that might be a controversial position for a publisher in a small town like San Miguel to take. But controversy sells newspapers, no? And as they used to proclaim up there in Hartford, “All responsible opposing viewpoints will be considered.”

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photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)

Dr. David welcomes you to San Miguel Sunday. Anyone with any interest in contributing articles is heartily encouraged to contact him at the email below. The "Best City in the World" deserves a good Lokkal magazine.

events @ sanmiguelevents.com

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