Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Word for Today: Nurture


Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French norriture, from Late Latin nutritura act of nursing, from Latin nutritus, past participle of nutrire to suckle, nourish -- more at NOURISH


2: something that nourishes: FOOD

3: the sum of the influences modifying the expression of the genetic potentialities of an organism


1: to supply with nourishment


3: to further the development of: FOSTER

There is a lot of debate about the influences that shape us. This Nature vs. Nurture argument has been around a long time, and I suspect it will continue as long as some groups try to think that it's one or the other that is most important. I am a little biased myself, though. If I had to put a percentage on it I would say that we are the product of about 65% Nature and 35% Nurture.* But let's not get too concerned with numbers here because that 35% can be very important and pivotal in the final outcome.

It seems some people think that Nurture is so minimally important that it is not worth any value. I strongly disagree. And it also seems that some people think that Nurture is easy and mostly warm cuddles and encouragement. These people are clearly not mothers. Of course, those things are aspects of Nurturing, but to truly further the development of things or people we must sometimes be harsh, critical, and/or vicious even ;-). The farmer who nurtures his crops must remove the weaker sprouts to make room for the stronger ones. Mother Nature eliminates many weaker things that would not benefit growth and development. Nurture isn't all about focusing only on the good and happy and beneficial. It takes a certain talent to be able to discern what needs to be done for nurturing to be successful and balanced.

Women are naturally the nurturers of our species. This is because the female is the one who bears children and Nature would not assign a duty without providing the proper "instincts" to fullfill that duty. If that were the case, we'd have never evolved to where we are now. Of course, I'm not saying that men can't or don't nurture or that some men might even be better at it than the average woman. There are many degrees of nurturing ability just as there are many degrees of other abilities. Unfortunately, our modern society doesn't value Nurturing as much as it should.** My own personal opinion about this is that the feminist movement is partly responsible for this trend (in addition to the rise of the patriarchal religions). Although women of today do benefit in many ways from the struggles of our feminist mothers we are also paying consequences that they didn't foresee. But this is a perfect example of the Nurturing that Nature does. Nature determines the consequences of our actions whether we like them or not and whether we expect them or not. Nurture can never fully overcome Nature. But to worship the powers of Nature without regard to our own powers of Nurture is just asking for trouble.

* In thinking about this percentage thing I realized I should probably explain it a little more. It seems best to think of it in the same way as weather forecasts. (not especially precise, etc.) When we hear that we have a 30% chance of rain, it actually means that 30% of the forecast area can expect rain. Though we can't really say which 30%. ;-) If this is incorrect then blame it on the meteorologist who explained it this way on TV. :-) We often joke at home about it "30 percenting" when we are the ones who get the rain and not the other 70% of our area. My 35% Nurture effect is somewhat similar to the weather situation. At any given time 35% of people will be experiencing some major Nurturing effects. ;-)

However, my little joke isn't really intended to limit it to that reasoning. I do also think that on an individual basis, on averagae, a person's self is 65% biologically determined while the other 35% is environmentally determined.

** By not respecting Nurture enough I mean that modern society wants to limit Nurture to only the positive reinforcement aspects while refusing to accept the harsher aspects of it (the Fall of Punishment, as in the form of no more corporal punishment in schools and the revolt against the Death Penalty, etc., is one example). Modern society can't accept that 'bad things can happen to good people' and that there are natural and sometimes chaotic consequences to life. There are many books devoted to that topic and it's much too broad to approach in a afterthought. Ultimately, Nature and Nurture are inseparable and as dependent upon each other as men and women.

And apparently at the present time my own personal Nature vs. Nurture influences are at battle so if I appear confused and/or inconsistent I will blame them. ;-)

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