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  January 28, 2002

Born Bad: The Dangerous Dogma of Meds and Genetics

The idea that we are born bad - flawed or "in sin" at the outset - is a concept developed mostly by the mythologies of the major Western religions and Western science. This myth states that goodness has to be taught - even beaten into children. We are born bad and have to be made good through control and discipline.

Humans who have been nurtured in compassion and non-violence do not see life this way. They see that "good and bad" are just arbitrary judgments, and that life is just the way it is.

A sprout becomes a tree without having to be taught. A beaver kit grows to be busy and productive without coercive training. The students at Summerhill School in England become responsible, capable adults without ever being required to attend classes. In fact, upon graduation, they test higher than the national average in academics and are much more emotionally mature. Summerhill upholds the rights of children to learn in their own way and at their own pace - and has done so successfully since 1921.


All things in nature have an inner quality that moves them to reach their full potential. To reach this potential, certain needs must be fulfilled, including the need to be protected and supported in the process. To force living things to be something they are not is abuse. Serious, life-damaging abuse.

When we are conceived, we are what we are - we are not bad. Since we are not bad, we do not have to have the bad beaten out of us, or have the good drummed into us. If we are accepted, protected and nurtured, we will grow according to our inner nature and be all that we need to be.

Unfortunately, the old religious dogma of being "born bad" has a new and more dangerous cousin - modern genetics.

The new and slicker version of the "born bad" message is that our problems are due to faulty genes. For example, if you're depressed, you were born flawed. And since you were "born bad," you have to be "made good" by ingesting an antidepressant drug.

The same assumption is made in the diagnosis and medical treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Geneticists (backed by doctors, psychiatrists, and the drug-lord pharmaceutical companies) have convinced the general public that active children diagnosed with ADHD are born genetically flawed. Because of this view that they are "born bad," literally millions of children are forced to become addicts - to Ritalin. A few years ago, most children were beaten to offset their "badness." Now children are being drugged to offset their "badness." Both approaches are abusive.

I respect different viewpoints, but the "born bad" perspective of modern genetics makes me angry. It leads to the abuse of some of the most vulnerable people - the young, the sick, the handicapped, and the elderly.

How can this happen?

1) Those in power have to classify the victims as different, with another name. They call them Gooks, Niggers, Jews, Palestinians, Patients, Challenged, Seniors, Kids. Not people. Not "us." Them.

2) Those in power judge that these "others" are flawed in some way and in need of correction.

3) Those in power decide that since these others are flawed, they are not capable of "correcting" themselves, and have to be coerced by outside force.

4) If the "flawed ones" resist "correction," it is further proof that they are flawed, and that the correction must be meted out with greater force and persistence.

It is obvious that the entire operation is only possible through the exertion of brute force. It is nothing but the abuse of power against the rights and freedoms of those who are less powerful or in the minority.

Doctors, backed by modern genetic theory, apply this "template of coercion" in many ways. In the case of agitated or very active young people:

1) They are classified and named as something inferior and different: as Children.

2) They are diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), apparently caused by a genetic flaw.

3) They are forced by their parents to swallow, and become dependent on, the drug Ritalin.

4) They are not allowed to resist, or harsher measures are forced upon them until they submit.

Try this "Four Step Coercion Process" using any of the other abused minorities mentioned above. You may be amazed. You also may note that sometimes the correction meted out has been slavery, torture, and death.

If we do not fall for this new "born bad" message, we do the obvious - look for a source of the problem. If we discover that a plant is withered, we don't immediately assume that it is born with a gene that makes it wither! We take stock of the possible causes - the history of the condition. Then we may find a natural solution. Perhaps the plant is simply too dry and needs water.

I don't deny the existence of genetic mutations and ailments. They occur throughout the natural world, but they are few and far between - not like the epidemic of illness we are seeing in modern humans. I also don't deny that our unique genetic blueprint directs certain potentials toward illness, but those illnesses do not usually appear without the neglect of basic needs. In the final analysis, I have never met an unwell person who does not have significant causes for the illness in their life history. Often the causes can be addressed.

We are conceived essentially healthy. This health can only be taken away - by coercion and neglect. This abuse is driven by the view that we are "born bad." This view is presently upheld by modern genetics, science, education, psychiatry, and medicine.

Why do we fall for it? It's simple. We have been brainwashed by the "born bad" propaganda - since we were born.

"My parents, teachers, and the experts with the letters after their names say I am bad. I am bad, so I can't know better. I am bad, so that's why they make me take drugs. I am bad, so I have to do these things for my own good. I am bad, so that's why I don't like to do what they tell me. I am bad, so I can't tell what's right. I am bad - and that must be why this feels so bad."

This is the result of serious emotional and physical abuse. In some way, is this still happening to you?

You were not born bad.

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