If there’s one thing LFG is about it’s the brain. And if there’s one thing we want to do about it, it’s to keep it a friend of you, your community and your environment. Unfortunately a lot of people want to do the opposite. They want to make your brain an enemy. These people are bullies, but unfortunately we currently live in their land, the Bullyland.
So what can we do? The answer is research. And there’s much to be hopeful about. Consider this: it’s taken a thousand years to get from virtually nowhere in the art of mapmaking to today’s centimetre-perfect, 3-dimensional guides. However, in mapping the functioning complexities of the brain it’s taken a little over sixty. This is extraordinary, head-spinning progress.
Of course, there’ve been hurdles, and, in many ways, the hurdles that modern neuro-cartographers have had to face have been higher than the ones ancient map-makers encountered. Mapping the earth, after all, meant exploring fresh and exotic lands, expanding horizons, experiencing different peoples, cultures, foods, even different meal times; revealing the structures of the brain, by contrast, has often meant uncovering boundaries and limits, discovering invisible hands in invisible velvet gloves: new meals, yes, but at what time of day? It’s often felt as if one has been roughly shaken awake at three in the morning to be force fed tasteless, bitter gruel, the mastication process devolving into joyless, mechanical chewing with the result being that the stomach is as open to feed as a bath of radox-ed water is to a corpse you desperately need disappeared. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s this: we’re now discovering these evolutionary walls have escape hatches. In the words of Dr Jonathan Rowson of the Social Brain Centre:
As individuals we may be bound by habit, DNA and evolutionary forces but as a society we can surf the contours of our helical chains and create great opportunities for individuals to reach the coast of health and happiness. To extend the metaphor, the individual can then catch the bus and go home to lasting safety with friends and family.
Of course to most people this has been obvious for a long time: we help each other break our cognitive chains daily without even thinking about it. A few years ago there used to be a programme on tv called Loose Women which was a prime example of this process at work. Talking things through, offering advice, laughing off foibles and insecurities, the forum of Loose Women (Denise Welch, Andrea McLean, Carol McGiffin, Jane McDonald et al) offered us a glimpse of what we can achieve if we come together with intelligence and humanity.