Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Moral Predicament of Incest

Ecology has a lot to offer to mankind other than diversity in the balance of nature. The dynamics and correlation of behavioral ecology to human evolution shows how ecological and social factors affect our behavior. This correlation certainly broadens ecology’s meaning towards our habitat and provides a substantial implication towards shaping our habits too. The role of life sciences in human behavior is critical to understanding variations in our cognition and emotions, our growth cycles and adaptive capabilities and more importantly our reproduction, parental care and mate acquisitions. The focus of my discussion is not ecology but an effort to understand the nature of incest through deeper eyes.

The relationship of mankind to mating behavior is ancient. This trait is as natural as life itself, as pure as emotion to love and be loved and as powerful as our mind. Sometimes it even seems as desired as a soul longing for Nirvana. However the sensitive weave of relationships and the science of genetics give a holistic meaning to mating or intimacy other than just a need. Beyond the subject of science, a copulating behavior can also be understood as being aware of our surroundings and exercising sound judgement to the interplay of our emotions under specific situations. Any act or a mode of behavior that overrules such essence of nurturing kin recognition in relationships is incest that changes the rules of the game.

It is intriguing to know how nature defines mating behavior in insects and animals. It shows incest as a characteristic not common in all species unlike the ambrosia beetles and few other species in the animal kingdom. Not many of us would be aware that an animal like tiger shows his pride through mating discriminations and kin recognition, as do some Gorillas. This mating behavior is a guide to the animal’s ego and parental instincts.

The inferences drawn from nature however can sometimes be different than a mind’s scorn reflection for incest even though literacy and advancement have leaded change. Cohabitation or incest is not an obsession or promiscuity but a hideous crime especially when involving children. It is a mental state or delusional feeling and may be even the result of a shadowed past. Incest is not only socially intimidating and a taboo in some cultures but is forbidden scientifically as well. Genetic disorders and birth defects are some major concerns for incestuous relations. However some countries do not prohibit it just as some individuals who perceive it in the light of free expression and mutual consent. It is even more impeding to see chat rooms on the Internet displaying incest as playful. Freedom and play as an excuse for an offending relationship is no way justified. Try telling this to someone’s gloomy childhood lost to abuse by a kin or to someone who is being silently seduced somewhere around the world as seconds change to minutes in a clock. For victims of such abuse life is obscure in the long haul.

Incest is not just physical but an emotional abuse that freezes time and the victim’s ability to accept new and safer relationships. It is an offense of manipulating emotions involved in a natal relationship that pose threat to the equilibrium of life. Similar to a parasite, incest affects the chastity in cognate relationships and damages the perpetrator’s and the victim’s capability to see clear in the mirror. Moreover incest is a mental state of anxieties and phobia, as also an emotional outburst of anger and hostility. It can be a personality disorder that affects the congruence in flow of thoughts, emotions and actions that guide us in the real world. Any such disassociation of thoughts and emotions from the divine norms of life and the ethos of the society can be damaging to a meaningful existence.

Incest as a behavioral disorder and a mental health concern requires therapy or psychiatric help in most cases. However any medical intervention starts with self-help. In my view our mind can be recourse to solutions just as it is to our problems. Incest seems like a situation where the mind is in complete control of the body leading to a gamut of desires that can be otherwise controlled through a normalized behavior. To control mind, other than science, one needs to see strength in the soul’s power that can amaze us through open eyes in wilderness or in city rush. As we continuously unfold to a materialistic lifestyle our desires shall double and slowly cover the face of realities in life. It is important to understand that our thoughts and emotions arise from the mind and so do abuse and other hostile crimes. Buddha, the great prophet once said, ‘It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways’. He also said, ‘Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned’. In the light of these great words, incest is a crime that the mind inflicts on self and others. It is a coercive behavior when one wrongfully exercises power in a relationship that incarcerates one’s own life and of the one’s related through blood. A crisis such as this needs to stop now so that incest does not end up as a moral predicament of tomorrow.

Cases such as Joseph Fritzl and daughter Elisabeth (Austria), Patrick S & Sister Susan K (Germany), John and daughter Jenny Deaves (Australia) or the latest Mackenzie & father John Phillips and the Wesson family incident (USA) are more than just eye openers. Some of these cases may be rare evidences of emotional excitement for some couples while as most others unseen and unspoken simply state an emotional coma and subdued life. With incest as a hidden rage how safe is our habitat from the gravity of our own mind? Learning the lesson from ecology this time however may deeply help.

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