Monday, December 10, 2012

Sex education in NZ schools

The issue of sex education in schools has arisen again. Several pertinent points :
1. If we disempower kids they will they want to be adults sooner.
2. Adults don't grasp the role of sex; so few advocates are going to match the populist extorted agenda of lobbyists.
3. Dispersed school authority over sex education gives parents and principals the power if student assignment to schools was at the parent's discretion.
4. A school system which dumbs down the student mind is going to leave children jaded in their relationship choices. Adults are having relationships and sex for the wrong reason...exactly to whom would you have kids turn? A political or populist decision will make less sense than any other. Better for kids to question and be given the minority perspective.

So what do I think? I think sex is overrated between adults because thinking is underrated. Anyone who thinks sex adds spice to a relationship needs to engage their mind.

Caring, succeeding and building relationships

Someone sent me this quote, which is one of the better ones I've come across, and so pertinent to contemporary times. 
John C. Maxwell: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them”.
It is however not complete in itself because the dynamics of any budding relationship are not simply defined by one person, and reading this quote is not going to spontaneously give you the values to present yourself in the way that is going to win you relationships. The values of the counterparty and the experiences which shaped them are also important. The implication is that:
1. Perpetrators have a capacity to feign consideration, and for the sake of money, sex or gratuitous need, they breach our trust; and then we hate ourselves for trusting them. 
2. Counterparties don't care how much you know until they are aware of how you can help them.
3. Counterparties are cynical with scarce time, so they dare not risk wasting their own time by engaging in your space.
4. Counterparties have to overcome a 'wall of worry' before they will allow themselves to be vulnerable.
5. Counterparties don't want to pass through life alone; but they need a commitment to higher values than their dollar, body, material security. Some are more tragic than others. 

This raises two questions:
1. How are people destined to be engaged?
2. How can we best engage people?

How are people destined to be engaged?
There are a number of things which will engage people:
1. Conveying that you care - The first step is to convey that you care. The question is - care about what? Should we convey care for a person devoid of merit? The first point is that no one is devoid of merit. They would be dead otherwise; and if you are at least talking to them, then they actually embody the capacities for civility. There is an efficacy in helping others; so there is a basis for personal pride. This need not be a waste of time. It need not be an opportunity cost. So your care should be coming from two places: (i) A desire for personal efficacy, and (ii) A sense of generosity which is a source of surplus; in terms of generosity with time, money, conceptual engagement, etc. The threat posed with some psychopaths is that they convey the high-level thinking, but they have a tragic desire to destroy the good in others.  
2. Appealing to what they want - Asking people what they want; finding out what they want...It is easy enough to give people what they want. Its greater still to exceed their expectations. Exceeding people's expectations is a threatening thing to do because you are conveying that you understand a person more than them. People don't resent the information; they resent the sense of being judged or their own self-appraisal that others knew better than them. This is a negation for people wanting an unearned sense of pride. There are several ways to deal with that. The lowest maintenance approach is to delivery expectations; the harder approach is to take more interest in the counterparty, so you can speak from a position of empathy and trust. This is not an easy position because people are very vulnerable, and most of us are too rushed to actually engage people optimally. 
2. Conveying that you can deliver - It is important to convey that you are dedicated and efficacious in that area where you offer value. This is actually the easiest element to building relationships because its simply an achievement of 'relative merit' or economic relativism. Being ahead of the market actually makes it harder to engage, so if that is your approach, then you need a higher value clientele, otherwise in business you will be expending huge amounts of energy for little gain, and a great deal of frustration. This is your learning curve, but its not going to be overcome in a day. So if you need a means of living, its a false economy, though you will need to challenge that wall, if you are going to breach it.
3. Conveying good values - It is not sufficient to be good at something; people need to believe that you have good values, and that you are an honourable person, because most people are not desperate for the things they want. The implication is that its not sufficient to be a great landscaper; people need to believe that you are an all-round good guy because they are not just trusting that you will prepare a nice garden, but that you will not resent their judgement, that you will not burglarise their house, that you will not rape their daughter, and that they can broadly trust you with their vulnerabilities. You might ask - Can't they just quarantine their 'vulnerabilities'? Of course they can, but then such security measures perhaps speak more to their tragic state of mind. Wealthy people don't go to slumming in 'Jonesville' in order to hire a gardener; they hire within their community. The fact that these people come from their community conveys a sense of trust, and they will pay a premium for the confidence that arises from knowing that their community would spurn anyone who did not reach their standards. They are therefore destined to recruit people from their social circles. For most of you; this is not surprising. Its merely dealing from your comfort zone. 
The flipside is that those coming from 'Jonesville' want instant recognition, respect for being a good gardener. They do not expect to be appraised for all these other qualities that they didn't know a gardener needed to be. They are therefore either destined to learn a hard lesson on a steep learning curve, or they are inclined to resent a distinction they never understood. This is not to say that they will not learn. If they are not intellectually challenged by attempts to engage in wealthy communities, they will engage with the 'home-boys' of Jonesville. Standards might be lower in Jonesville, but they are still growing. 
I have made a distinction in values purely on the basis of wealth. This is not the sole consideration; merely described to make a point about value or moral imperatives. I would argue that the wealthy are just as anti-intellectual as the poor; because society as it stands is divided by a false political dichotomy that is destined to entrench this dumping down, which was conveyed in Judge Napolitano's speech before he was sacked by Fox News.