Nature vs Nurture

I follow the activities of the British royals.  Some folks around the U.K. and their Commonwealth of Nations, believe the royals owe them because of the massive perks they receive in lifestyle and wealth which is way beyond what most of the populace would dream of.

I like their sense of service, born out by the concept of noblesse oblige, or nobility obliges.  They truly live to serve others.  They might perform their service in more expensive and flashier clothing than any of us might wear when in service; but service it is and for them it’s their life’s work.

Lately, I’m especially interested in Catherine, the Princess of Wales’s new Shaping Us Campaign of Early ChildhoodMuch of my psychology and sociology study has focused on human development, and as it goes,” the earlier the better.”

What the Princess is trying to do with her work on this campaign is to affect the nurture part of our early years.  Presumably there’s not much we can do about what “God gave us,” or the nature part of the growth and development equation.  This is debatable, but it’s a debate for others more educated in biology than this writer.

I’m more able and willing to pontificate about nurture.   For instance, it’s observable by everyone who hasn’t lived under a rock since birth, that people love to give credit to their parents for the good stuff they “inherited,” and blame them for the bad stuff. 

It’s my personal theory that Benjamin Franklin’s statement that nothing is certain but death and taxes doesn’t go far enough.  I think the inevitables are death, taxes and blame.  Maybe not everybody succumbs, but most of us want to blame somebody for “what’s wrong,” in our lives.

I also think that there’s a third factor beyond nature and nurture, that determines who we become as adults.  It’s the trinity of me, myself, and I.  Some stuff can only be attributed to my reaction to my environment, upbringing, circumstances, beliefs-held, physiological makeup, etc.

And, funnily those traits that skip a generation or two, but someone in the misty-distant past in the line of descent, triggered the same stuff in me.  It’s called atavism, and that’s fun.

Now, I’ve clearly got some stuff from my parents.  Back in the day, my dad, a carpenter, would have been characterized a blue-collar worker vs. a suit (white-collar worker).  He worked hard and believed everybody should do the same.

I learned from Dad, a work ethic.  I will work on a hands-on project until either I’m exhausted or the job is finished.  That’s all there is to it.

Dad’s go-get ‘em physicality probably carries over into my health and workout regime.  But my doctor has worked on me for years to be aware that my mom’s diabetes might be lurking in my aura.  If I’m calling it like it is, that factors mightily into my exercise-or-diabetes fear.   Thanks doc.

It’s obvious to anyone who knew my mom and knows me that I got her sarcasm, dry sense of humor, seriousness, and tendency toward the cerebral.  These traits go together and cannot be separated, in my opinion.

I’ve always described this combo of traits as “kindly sarcasm,” not the mean stuff.  It’s best exemplified in the phrase, “are you kidding,” which is not a question but a sarcastic comment about something I think is inconceivable, unimaginable or just plain stupid.

My mom also passed along her propensity for attention to detail, to put it mildly.  She was known to write on the back of a photograph, a comprehensive biography of the person(s) pictured, including their full name of first, middle, last, married, and nickname, which resembles either that of royals or pedigree dogs entering a dog show.

You’d think that with all that detail, mom would have attended to dusting.  But, not so much.  She avoided it like the plague that it is, and so do I.  Go, mom.

My dad loved the woods.  So, do I.  I grew up with a pine forest in my back yard, oaks in the side yard, a creek down below, a corn field beside the lane, apple trees along the lane, lilacs and concord grape vines outside the back door, etc.  I like trees and quiet, vines, plants, and dirt.  Thank you, dad.

It’s not all mom and dad who bequeathed traits to the kids.  If you have older siblings, and I’m blessed with a number of them, you inherit a fair amount of stuff from them as well.  Thanks guys for your contribution to my life.  You all rock, in your own way.

How in the world did I get my unquenchable desire for travel, mostly to European or Canadian destinations?  And, I inordinately dislike collecting and hoarding stuff, to the degree that I have thrown useful stuff out or given stuff away when I later clearly could have used it, worn it, or repurposed it.

All I know is, we should all be cognizant that hand-me-downs are inevitable.  We receive traits from who they are and what they did, by example and by genes.  Importantly, however, we can choose to enhance the good stuff that we got from our parents and our culture, and we can diffuse and refuse the bad stuff. 

So, let’s just go with God, and what we’ve got.

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