Aristotle is considered to be the first to offer the idea that the human intellect, “is like a clean table on which nothing is written.” He referred to this as tabula rasa or unscribed slate. The idea is that you are born with an empty slate and your influences, experiences and authority figures “program” you in your formative years. While there is little doubt that certain instincts and genetic “wiring” also play a role in development, sexuality and intellect, this idea of programming is more about how you are conditioned to view the world.
Everyday it seems we see images of religious fanatics blowing up themselves and innocent bystanders in the name of their religion and their strongly held beliefs. While religious diversity exists in countries allowing such freedom, the fact remains that what religion you subscribe to is strongly influenced by your parents, authority figures and location. There are not many Christians being raised in Afghanistan.
Imagine five children born at the same moment but in five separate locations. America, Thailand, Iran, India and Israel. As adults odds favor each child believing in the teachings of: America-Christianity, Thailand-Buddhism, Iran-Islam, India-Hinduism, and Israel-Judaism. You could say each was given a different program about religion and the hereafter. Some of these programs are so in conflict with other programs that people have been fighting to the death for centuries to prove the superiority of their belief system.
Here’s what’s interesting about this programming and virtually all of our programming. The programs were installed without our permission when we are children.
These imaginary five children had no say in where they were born nor what they were taught about religion. However, each would grow to believe their religion to be the supreme religion and, in many cases, are willing to die in that belief. You could say that are staking everything on that belief.
So, who is your programmer? Actually, you have a lot of them. For most of us, our programming comes from a conflux of our family, authority figures such as teachers, clergy, doctors, friends, the media, role models both good and bad, our community, the circumstances of our upbringing (contrast the programming a child received being raised poor in the depression era to being raised now in a middle income home), good and bad experiences and influences.
Understanding programming is important because it helps you understand why other people act the way they do. This doesn’t mean you condone their actions or even like them, but once you understand that we are all products of our programming, it helps you to place the actions of another in a larger context.