SEX AND VIOLENCE
Within my culture, "sex and violence" is a recognizable phrase. Sentences in which it appears usually have an element of cynicism and/or humor and/or ambivalence and/or outright disapproval. Such sentences often pertain to entertainment, and "entertainment" itself appears to be a word or concept about which there is a certain amount of ambivalence. (I recall the negative reaction that occurred when, in a group discussion within a religious organization, I expressed the importance of services being entertaining.)
Now in this chapter I do not intend to perform an analysis of the role of sex and violence in our culture. There are others far better educated in the appropriate areas to perform that function.
This chapter is an effort to introduce Humanianity as the coming of age of a new religious orientation that is relevant to all religions and is, in my opinion, our opportunity to come to a far, far better way of living on this planet than we have ever known.
You should recall that Humanianity is not a religion to replace all other religions, but instead, by definition, an ultimate religion toward which all religions should aspire, each in their own way.
Every human is born into some sort of culture, a set of habitual ways of believing and valuing and behaving that belongs to the group into which that human is born.
And there are countless cultures and subcultures, all of which are changing in various ways, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad, according to whoever is making the judgment. In other words, cultures differ, and cultures have good and bad in them, and cultures change. Therefore, it is possible for cultures to improve.
But we have to remember that any culture consists of those beliefs, values, and behaviors that are considered right by the members of the culture, by definition. That means that in order for a culture to change, it has to come to the conclusion that it is not currently optimal, that it needs to change, that, basically, it is wrong. Herein lies one of our greatest obstacles to accomplishing this drastically better way of living on our planet that I stated was possible for us. We have to question what we currently believe is right, or true, or best. The very things that we are deeply committed to might turn out to be the very things that we should modify, improve, change, or even abandon!
And, by the way, is this not exactly what we would say about an individual undergoing psychotherapy because of the somehow self-induced suffering that he or she has been experiencing? Do we not, as a species, experience an enormous amount of PSDED (pain, suffering, disability, and early death), the vast majority of which is in part self-induced, at least to a certain (actually enormous) extent? So is it not quite conceivable that "the very things that we are deeply committed to might turn out to be the very things that we should modify, improve, change, or even abandon" as a species?
And if the above is true, what part, if any, do you wish to play in the response to that fact? You could easily say, "Well, it's an interesting idea, so I will wait and see if anyone does anything with it, and what." You could easily say, "Well yes, but I have important things to do, so I will let others worry about it." You could easily say, "Well, changing ourselves is the job of our elected governments, so once I have put somebody in office I have done my part."
But you could also say, "If I don't put forth as much effort as I can to do this, how can I expect anyone else to?" And you could say, "I want to do my part, as much as I can, to promote the REUEP," in which case you would be a Humanian, and you would be promoting Humanianity, whatever specific religion you might also be a member of or might espouse.
Let us restate the REUEP (rational-ethical ultimate ethical principle):
WE SHOULD DO THAT WHICH WILL PROMOTE NOT ONLY THE SURVIVAL OF OUR SPECIES, BUT ALSO THE GOOD LIFE FOR EVERYONE, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE, "THE GOOD LIFE" MEANING AS MUCH JOY, CONTENTMENT, AND APPRECIATION (JCA) AS POSSIBLE AND AS LITTLE PAIN, SUFFERING, DISABILITY, AND EARLY DEATH (PSDED) AS POSSIBLE.
Let us also recall that the only requirement, by definition, for you to be a Humanian is for you to indeed consider the REUEP to be your own ultimate ethical principle, and that anything else that I state in this book is simply my opinion as to how one can go about implementing the REUEP, an opinion that you may not share, and need not share to be a Humanian. But, it is my opinion that with sufficient thought you will agree with me in at least most of what I have to say, because what I have to say I believe is based upon things that all of us can easily observe. We will see.
And all of the above has been to prepare you for what is to follow, namely, an effort to arrive at some conclusions, not on the basis of what you already believe, but only on the basis of the REUEP and what you can easily observe. This is a top-down approach.
So we are not going to make any assumptions about what is right or wrong, good or bad, etc., but instead are going to ask some important questions as to what is really optimal, independent of what our culture currently says. We will not look to our culture for the answers. Therefore, what I am going to propose may sound terrible to some or even many, who will evaluate it according to the mandates of their culture. Humanians will not do so, however, but will instead evaluate it according to logical conclusions based upon the REUEP and what we can observe about the way the world is (especially as clarified by science, that now gives us our most accurate beliefs).
Okay, so we are primarily going to look at sex and violence. It should be evident that there are substantial differences between these two activities, even if, with regard to certain issues, they may be regarded together. So we will deal with them separately at first, and then go back to looking at them together, using perhaps a different perspective.
Let us first examine sex.
Sex is enjoyable.
Indeed, sex produces joy and is often followed by contentment, and it is certainly appreciated by many. So if existence were simple, we could say that promoting sex was promoting JCA (joy, contentment, and appreciation), and therefore the REUEP. But we well know that the complication is that sex is also associated with much PSDED.
So is sex good or bad? Obviously the answer is that it can be both, or let us say more accurately, that engaging in sexual behavior may be good or bad depending on how it is done. So far, I doubt that there is any disagreement. So the question then becomes, "How should sexual behavior be engaged in?" In other words, what would be the ethics of sexual behavior? What is the right way to do it? What are the ethical rules of conduct that everyone should use for guidance with regard to sexual behavior?
Now we begin our independent inquiry, independent from any particular culture.
First, we must simplify our approach. We all know that sex (sexual behavior) has certain well-recognized dangers, namely and primarily, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. But these are not inevitable consequences of sexual behavior, and, in fact, have increasingly become preventable by our use of science and technology. So for the purposes of our discussion, we should temporarily set aside the issue of these two kinds of PSDED, in order to evaluate the ethics of sexual behavior in and of itself. The reason for this is that, even without the consideration of unwanted pregnancy and disease, there is substantial cultural condemnation of sexual behavior in and of itself. There is much to talk about without even considering unwanted pregnancy and disease.
And we may fairly quickly, I believe, dispense with rape, meaning forcible sex against a person's wishes, since that would almost certainly be inconsistent with the REUEP.
But what about sex between people of different races? Of the same sex? Of different ages? Outside of marriage? Between family members? Between children? In public places? In the media for adults? In the media for children? With more than one person? With more than X people per unit of time? In exchange for money? In exchange for other than money and/or reciprocal sexual gratification? Other than to produce pregnancy? With oneself?
So it is apparent that there are certain cultural proscriptions against various kinds of sexual behavior. And there are usually reasons given for those proscriptions. Sexual behavior X should not be engaged in because Y. And what are some examples of Y?
There are four main reasons that I have observed being given:
The first reason seems self-explanatory and consistent with the REUEP, but there are some complications that I will come back to.
The second reason seems rather strange, if one believes at all that we should limit our population growth. The first sexual intercourse could produce twins, condemning that person or couple to a remaining lifetime of no sex, while someone known to be infertile would simply be completely out of luck. And we do not in any way limit other biological functions to the performing of them only for their essential biological purpose. For instance, we do a lot of eating beyond what is necessary for the sustaining of life.
The third reason, when elaborated upon, generally includes references to entities believed to exist by the person giving the reason, but not yet having been identified by the sciences. And there seem to be noticeable difficulties in discussing that fact in depth unless one agrees with the person. This reason, having to do with the wishes of a deity, is complicated by the difficulty in knowing what is in the mind of the deity, there generally being difference of opinion regarding such things, including difference of opinion as to what the source of authority should be. And of course some even question the existence of such a deity, such that there has yet to be a final answer regarding this issue. And of course opinions about the existence and values of a deity tend to be inherent in cultures, and different for different cultures. So conclusions based upon what a deity wishes regarding sexual behavior are bound to be uncertain and contested, leaving no possibility for agreement regarding sexual ethics, despite the importance of such ethics. For our purposes, as I stated above, we wish to look at sexual behavior independently from any specific culturally maintained beliefs.
And the fourth reason is inherently meaningless, because if one just should believe it, without any reason to do so, one could just as easily believe the opposite, without any reason to do so.
But going back to the first reason for some of the cultural proscriptions mentioned above, namely, that such behavior leads to PSDED, such reasoning would seem to be clear except for one consideration: To what extent is the PSDED due ONLY to the fact that the sexual behavior is proscribed by the culture?
And here we come to what I believe to be an enormous amount of human-induced PSDED.
In the last chapter, I expressed my opinion that we should never engage in punishment and revenge because of the primary and secondary PSDED that results. Well, how much of the destructiveness of certain of the above kinds of sexual behavior is actually due, not to the sexual behavior itself, but to the punitive, vengeful reaction of the culture. For instance, suppose none of the behaviors listed were reacted to with disapproval, punishment, and/or revenge; how many of those behaviors would still indeed result in PSDED?
Probably the sexual behavior that is most responded to with anger, revenge, and punishment, at least currently, is that which is labeled "child sexual abuse." Such behavior ranges all the way between consensual behavior between adolescents of slightly different age to adult sexual behavior of varying sorts with very small children. Certainly this range of behaviors is probably not best looked at as one kind of behavior. It includes behavior ranging from that which is almost certain to produce PSDED independent of the reactions of the culture all the way to that which (1) approaches what would be considered "normal" by virtue of its frequency of occurrence and (2) seems devoid of any identifiable resulting PSDED.
So what is the relevance of this kind of behavior to Humanianity? There is one extreme change in outlook that I believe is consistent with Humanianity. We currently view situations like this as containing a "perpetrator" and a "victim." A Humanian, I believe, must view both as victims. A Humanian, I believe, will not wish to victimize even further either of the two individuals involved.
First we must look at the "victim."
The traditional victim has been victimized by the circumstances, namely, as having become involved in the sexual behavior and thereby suffering the PSDED that may (or may not) result from just the behavior itself.
But then the victim is victimized further by us, the culture, insofar as we react to the event as if it were much more than it actually is. The way to determine what this (cultural) component of victimization would consist of would be to imagine what would happen to the victim subsequent to the event if the event were considered normal and okay by the culture.
Looking at it this way, we would realize that there are many reactions to and around the victim that add to the PSDED, producing in the victim elements of shame, irrational guilt, fears of punishment, loss of self esteem, etc.
And all of this is complicated by the tendency of those important to the individual to avoid even discussing what has happened with the individual, leaving the individual isolated and unable to benefit from healing interactions with others.
The discussion is avoided often because of a specific, painful issue. The culture defines what has happened as "bad," and the culture often strongly believes that any "bad" must be punished. So if the victim has made any mistakes during the event (either through lack of judgment or through involuntary sexual arousal), he or she could be considered partly responsible for what has happened and therefore a candidate for punishment. Even if the punishment would not be from others within the culture, there would be the automatically self-induced pain of guilt and shame that has become a part of the individual by virtue of being reared in a punishing culture. And so those who care about the individual may avoid discussion for fear of bringing to light any such mistakes. When such discussions do occur, there is usually great effort to believe, and to convince the victim, that the victim did not make any mistakes, or, if the victim did, that he or she should not be held responsible for them for some specified reason. Often it is easier just not to have the discussion.
So the victim is a victim of whatever elements (if any) of the sexual behavior produce PSDED, and then also a victim of the culture, or the representatives of the culture (you and me).
But now we must look at the "perpetrator."
If the behavior is significantly deviant from normal, we can assume that (1) this individual has probably had significantly deviant, and possibly traumatizing, life experience or (2) that he or she has received a biological makeup that has contributed to the tendency to engage in such behavior or (3) that he or she has had the onset of some disability that is leading to reduced ability to refrain from unapproved behavior or (4) that he or she has been reared in ways that have led to insufficient ethical beliefs and/or ethical sense. Thus, this person's life has become involuntarily complicated in ways that most likely will limit his or her gratification from normal, healthy relationships, limit his or her ability to be productive and adherent to the culture's expectations, and interfere with having satisfactory self esteem, all examples of PSDED. The individual is thus a victim of these circumstances specific to his or her life.
But even more, there is the reaction of the culture, that is, the reaction of the individuals close to and important to the person, and the reaction of the governmental hierarchy, to what he or she has done, with the likelihood of punishment and revenge, and thus even more PSDED. The individual thus also becomes a victim of his or her culture.
The bottom line is that the "perpetrator" is a victim also.
Our attitude toward the perpetrator is substantially different from that toward the victim. But should it be? And if so, how?
There is no question, I believe, that a perpetrator is someone who needs to be supervised, until shown with a fair amount of confidence not to need to be. In addition to supervision, he or she needs our efforts to help him or her change to the point the supervision is no longer needed (assuming we have developed such capability).
But what is usual is something in addition to, or even instead of, the above. We feel sorry for the victim, but have anger toward the perpetrator, and our anger motivates efforts to ruin the life of the perpetrator, to inflict PSDED. And this tendency toward punishment and revenge alienates the perpetrator from the very people who might be of help, and it alienates the perpetrator to some extent from the society, making identification with the ethics of that society more difficult. In this way, our anger actually increases the likelihood of further such behavior. It interferes with helping this perpetrator, and it drives further underground other individuals who might need help with similar behavioral tendencies. It would seem that this approach to the problem is inconsistent with the REUEP. It is what comes naturally to us, to be sure, but it is not optimal. We should, I believe, be equally concerned about and benevolent toward the victim and the perpetrator, even though we may have to provide for supervision (to an extent proportional to the risk) of the perpetrator.
Please note again that the above is not a political proposal. Political and legal change will only reflect a change in the culture, and the culture will change only if individuals such as you and I do. So what I am writing about here is a potential change in your way of thinking that is part of the profound set of changes that are inherent in becoming a Humanian.
Another kind of cultural victimization is seen with regard to certain kinds of negotiated sex between consenting adults. The best example is prostitution.
Prostitution is associated with crime of various sorts. But to what extent is this true simply because prostitution itself, for no rational reason, is designated as a crime?
Now actually this issue is indeed currently being debated politically. In fact, some cultures legalize prostitution while others criminalize it. And the issues are complex. It is not likely that I can contribute anything that has not already been asserted in such debates. And this book is not a political one. But what I do wish to do is to focus on that aspect most relevant to the Humanian's approach to the issues.
It is said by some that prostitution is "inherently bad," that is, so obviously bad that no further explanation is needed. (Friendly debate regarding this issue is likely to be very difficult.) But how is this conclusion arrived at? I believe that this attitude toward prostitution is taught to children and young adults by the culture, without any actual logical consideration of the issues, because that is the nature of our unfortunate "standard model" of child rearing. Children are told the difference between right and wrong, and are expected to develop such beliefs as an act of obedience. A child is likely to be (informally) punished (disapproved of) if he or she questions the validity of such taught proscriptions. And within the standard model of child rearing, there is a tendency to believe that it is best to shield the child from any consideration that what is being taught may not be agreed upon by everyone, because that might weaken the effectiveness of the effort to produce in the child a strong, protective ethical value. (If anything, it weakens the child's developing ability to engage in ethical reasoning.)
(My reference to the "standard model" of child rearing is using terminology from the chapter "Rational-Ethical Child Rearing" in the "textbook" that can be downloaded free from HomoRationalis.com.)
But suppose we start from a different framework. Suppose we start from an absence of any assumption that such behavior is bad. What would the behavior then look like, and how would it be different from other behavior that is not disapproved of but accepted as good? Let us use our imagination.
There are individuals who, because of their appearance or certain disabilities, are unable to develop relationships with others that are intimate enough to allow for sexual behavior to occur.
There are individuals who are new to sex and wish to learn how to engage in it so as to be more confident when the time comes for such behavior to occur in a primary significant relationship.
There are individuals who do not have the time, due perhaps to a heavy work schedule that may even involve much travel, to develop relationships sufficiently intimate as to sustain sexual behavior as a part of them.
There are individuals who would like to learn to really get good at such behavior, in the same way that some learn other skills, such as sports, dancing, art, etc.
There are individuals who, because of certain life experiences, may experience substantial inhibitory anxiety when attempting to engage in sexual behavior, and who therefore wish help in desensitization and in acquiring the ability to enjoy the activity.
There are individuals who have a primary significant relationship with another who is unable to engage in sexual behavior but who is accepting of the individual getting such gratification elsewhere, with the additional comfort in knowing that the gratification is confined to a relationship that is for that purpose only, and thus not a threat to the primary significant relationship.
And perhaps there are other such scenarios, in which the existence of individuals who enjoy this kind of work and regard it as a way they can be of help to others is a real benefit to our species.
Now if our species had no negative attitudes toward an occupation such as this, would there nevertheless be something about it that would make it "inherently bad"?
We know, of course, that there are awful aspects to prostitution that do indeed currently exist, such as sexual slavery, but can we not ask whether these varieties of the occupation, that obviously involve PSDED, are primarily the result of the cultural condemnation of the entire occupation itself, such that it is driven underground and is therefore less subject to the expectation of the maintenance of certain ethical standards of behavior that apply to occupations that are more publicly scrutinized? How much of what is bad in prostitution is actually not the sexual behavior itself, but behavior that would be bad in any occupation?
So my whole point of this discussion is to ask you, if you are a Humanian, whether it is possible that the bad in the world comes primarily from what you and I do, as a part of our cultures, as opposed to there simply being bad people among us good ones, bad people that need to be punished, quarantined, and perhaps killed. What would life for our species be like if we made the assumption that all behavior was okay unless it, in and of itself, produced PSDED? And would we all perhaps have much more fulfilling lives, able to enjoy all of our biological capabilities, if we specifically inhibited only those behaviors that predictably made things worse (caused unnecessary PSDED)?
But remember that although I am talking about what life would be like if our cultures became more optimal, such optimization of culture can only come about if individuals, such as you and I, change ourselves and advocate such change to other individuals.
At the beginning of this discussion, we talked about the PSDED that accompanies sexual behavior in the form of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. We should note that these problems are not significantly different from obesity and food poisoning, that require modification of eating behavior to reduce the risk. We do not regard eating as bad because of these risks, but we do have to take appropriate precautions.
So we have three main forms of PSDED associated with sexual behavior, (1) PSDED produced by inherently damaging forms of sexual behavior, such as rape and adult sex with young children, (2) PSDED produced by risks especially attached to sexual behavior, such as unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, and (3) PSDED produced by non-rational cultural attitudes about sexuality. The first form of PSDED is prevented by abstinence from damaging forms of sexual behavior, brought about by education and adherence to ethical standards of behavior. The second form of PSDED is prevented by engaging only in safe sexual practices. The third form of PSDED is prevented by modification of sexual behavior and abstention from it in accordance with cultural values, but also efforts to change the culture, which begin with efforts to change the self followed by advocacy. And it is this last effort specifically (change of culture through change of self and advocacy) that a Humanian would perhaps be most able to put forth and be most likely to value.
I wish now to address violence.
Violence is the deliberate production of severe PSDED. It is obviously, then, behavior inconsistent with the REUEP. At least it would probably be very difficult to show that it was consistent with the REUEP, except perhaps in the case of self-defense or the saving of others from PSDED, when no other equally effective alternative seemed to exist.
But what constitutes violence? How severe does the PSDED have to be? Where is the dividing line between violence and non-violence? Let us assume that hitting someone in the face is violent. What about on the arm? What about poking real hard with the fingers? What about slapping the face? What about spitting in the face? What about spanking? What about screaming in the face of the other? What about making a devastating remark to the other? What about breaking the other's possession? What about ruining the other's reputation? What about threatening violence? What about threatening abandonment?
It should be apparent that there is no clear dividing line between violence and nonviolent hostility. So what we are talking about is some degree of hostility. (In the Rational-Ethical Anger Prevention chapter in the free textbook at HomoRationalis.com, "anger" is used to refer only to the feeling inside, whereas "hostile behavior" or "hostility" is behavior motivated by anger and having as its goal causing pain, discomfort, and/or damage to the target of the anger. And the chapter points out that some hostile behavior is quite sophisticated and subtle, such that there could be difficulty in appropriately recognizing it as such.)
So if we talk about violence, we are talking about extreme hostility, but since there is no clear dividing line between violence and mild hostility, we need to talk about hostility itself if we are going to try to do something about violence.
It should be clear that hostile behavior, since it always tends to promote suffering of some sort, is therefore very likely inconsistent with the REUEP. (Playful hostility, as in friendly teasing, is a complex and sometimes problematic behavior that will not be covered here.) Thus, if you are a Humanian and you are about to act in a hostile manner, an ethical rule of conduct to the effect that you should not be hostile should immediately be activated, causing you to give thought to what you are about to do. (The anger prevention paradigm in the above-mentioned chapter of the "textbook" will give you very specific ways of handling such a situation.)
So, in general, as a rule, we should not be violent, or even hostile.
But what do we observe? We LOVE hostility and violence! We do it all the time. We believe in it. We crave it to the extent that we center most of our entertainment around it. We love to watch it. Even as children, we flock to see the fight on the playground. As children and adults, we love sports that have an element of violence. We set up talk shows designed to see people become hostile. Our sitcoms are enjoyable because of the portrayal of clever and sophisticated hostility.
We train our children to be hostile and even violent. We hit and shout angrily at our children. We let them spend hours watching TV cartoons and other shows depicting violence. We give them computer games in which they can practice engaging in virtual violence. And we send them to school where the bullies rule on the playground and serve as additional models beyond those of the children's parents. And we show them how admired the most hostile and violent behaviors are, as evidenced in "professional" wrestling and boxing.
Basically, our cultures not only condone violence and hostile behavior in general, but also even promote it.
So we are victims of our cultures. And we are our cultures. If we are ever to come to a far better way of life, in which we stop causing ourselves incredible amounts of unnecessary PSDED, it will be by virtue of you and I changing ourselves and advocating such change to others, till ultimately our cultures change.
I have portrayed only one half of the picture, of course, because we also have within our cultures the recognition that peace, harmony, and nonviolence are good things. Isn't it interesting how we can believe opposite things?
We have as a part of our basic animal nature not only aggression, hostility, and violence, but also affection, love, caring, and, yes, sexuality. (Our biological cousins, the bonobos, use sexuality for bonding, taming of aggression, and resolution of conflict.) Isn't it striking that we humans are far more condemning of sexuality than of violence, and that we protect our children from sexuality far more than from violence?
So, in my opinion, what should we as Humanians do?
First, we should study and learn those ways of becoming non-hostile. Learning the anger prevention paradigm well would be a way. Second, we should practice those ways in our daily living till we get good at them. Third, we should rear our children in ways that do not produce chronic anger in them, as outlined in the "textbook" chapter on Rational-Ethical Child Rearing, and help them to learn, as soon as possible, the anger prevention methods that we adults are learning and practicing. Fourth, we should advocate that others do the same.
And because this changing of ourselves in a basic sort of way is a religious undertaking, as religion is defined in this book, we should work within our religions to improve them such that they aid us to a much greater extent in this changing of ourselves. Advocacy within the services, and provision of discussion groups and workshops to study and promote such values and skills, would be specific ways of doing so. (It should be noted that currently such group efforts are defined not as religious, but as clinical activities, designed for individuals who have difficulties with anger-related problems to the extent of being considered to have a "disorder." Such is unfortunate in that this is an unmet need for all of us, contributing to an extreme amount of worldwide PSDED. This need should be met primarily by our religious organizations, all over the world.)
And our religions can indeed improve.
Our religions reflect who we are. Especially in earlier times, our gods have been portrayed as very prone to anger, judgmentalism, revenge, and punishment, and wars with neighboring tribes or lands would be in behalf of, and with the protection and assistance of, such tribal gods. We need to recognize that our ancient literature will include such portrayals, and to accept such literature for what it is, just our best effort at the time. If we use the concept of God as a sentient entity, we will do better to consider God to be non-hostile, non-judgmental, non-vengeful, and non-punitive. Such a God will be a role model for us and our children.
Overall, my impression is that the idea of a deity being compassionate, non-hostile, non-punitive, and inclusive seems to be growing, even if, so far, only to a very slight extent. I believe this change is consistent with our growing awareness that we are an endangered species on this planet and must come together and work cooperatively if we are to save ourselves from ourselves. The idea of world government as an alternative to world war has been growing, as has the idea of universal human rights and the fair distribution of resources.
Probably, the religious concept of "heaven on earth" has very little in it beyond the elimination of the PSDED produced by our innate tendency toward anger, hostility, and violence.
But now let us revisit media violence. Are we saying that we Humanians should advocate banning all fiction that contains violence, or even hostility of any sort? Are we saying that at least there should be that banning with regard to violence, or even any hostility, in media for children? I think that everyone would see this as inappropriate, ineffective, and unrealistic. It will never happen, and perhaps it shouldn't. Such media depictions are at times great works of art. And there appears to be a great hunger for them, quenched by a large portion of entertainment budget.
But more importantly, such media portrayals (and fiction in general), help us to learn about ourselves vicariously. They therefore enhance our capacity for intensive empathy, our ability to understand each other, to put ourselves in the places of others. And that is an extremely important capability, producing a major difference between ourselves and chimpanzees (and all other species on this planet). The last thing we want is to become out of touch with who we really are, what our basic animal nature is really like, what it is that we are dealing with in our effort to stop our widespread mutual infliction of PSDED. Losing that awareness and understanding would make us far less able to deal with anger-producing situations and with the (hopefully only occasional) hostile, violent behavior that some may exhibit.
So what is the answer? I believe once again that it rests with you and me. We have to study, practice, model, and advocate. And if enough of us do it, if enough of us become Humanians, we will eventually have an effect on our cultures.
As noted, it should be a top priority for anyone raising children to understand and use an anger prevention paradigm (an example being the one in the "textbook") and to teach it to their children. Then, when allowing children, under supervision, to begin to watch media hostility and violence, it should be as a learning experience for the child to help the child understand his or her basic animal nature and how one rises above it through understanding and practice. We will have to acknowledge to the child that such images are indeed exciting, but that our actual behavior needs to be different from our play and imagination. (And this educational process must be done non-punitively.)
It should be quite clear that we have a very long way to go before we have changed our ways in this manner. And it just won't happen without you and I doing our part. (But even as we are doing our part, it will make our own lives and the lives of those close to us better.)
So, "sex and violence" are a part of our basic animal nature. They will always be with us, at least potentially. But with the help of our increasingly Humanian religions, we will more effectively supervise ourselves, and occasionally if necessary each other, in our efforts to eliminate behavior that promotes PSDED and is therefore inconsistent with the REUEP.
And as we, I hope, are seeing, in order for this to happen, our cultures will have to change, and they will do so only if you and I as individuals do our part to change ourselves and advocate such change to others. Currently, we are to an enormous extent victims of our cultures. Of course our cultures do much good, and they thereby reflect the good that also is in ourselves and that we advocate to each other. But we will need to take a stand against some aspects of our cultures that victimize us so extensively.
Our religions reflect, or are a part of, our cultures, but there is no other part of our cultures that is more appropriately assigned the function of self-improvement--for ourselves, our religions, and our cultures.
As defined in this book, this effort is Humanianity.