The perception, attitude, and opinions of the Typical Hindu from India (in regard to eating cattle) is the result of religious indoctrination and other cultural forces. That is, perception, attitude, and opinions may be factors involved in the individual’s choice behavior, but those factors themselves developed as a consequence of still yet other factors, which were beyond the individual’s conscious control. Yet, not unlike the Typical American, the Typical Hindu from India probably would believe that his/her perception, attitudes, and opinions somehow magically transcend the laws of cause and effect.
The anthropological research orientation called “cultural materialism” has theorized that a survival need to preserve cattle in India rather than eat them preceded the religious rules and social stigmas against the consumption. Take for example when the the Natives of New Zealand were first studied by anthropologists, they were noted to pray and pay homage to the gods at dangerous river crossings before attempting to cross. The time taken to pray and pay homage was also necessary to observe any dangers lurking in the water previously unnoticed. Thus the prayer and homage “saved” those who took the time to pay respect to the “gods.” No doubt more natives survived who prayed and paid homage than those who hurried into the river without the necessary quietude and reflection. In other words, the natives need preceded their religious belief and reinforced the belief once formed.
Marvin Harris (19270818 – 20011025) presented a similar proposition to the above in a paper titled, The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle.
The sensory input necessary to develop perception, attitude, and opinions conducive to deterring cattle consumption is more of a verbal conditioning process than it is rationalizing with the “student.” In other words, in a case such as this emotions play a much stronger roll in the development of perception, attitude, and opinions than reasoning does.
Of course, the reasonable person must ask, “What influential factors could the individual be exposed to that might result in him/her striving without question to enforce a religious commandment and/or a social rule?”
Well, the most powerful influence in regard to human thought and behavior is fear. So the motivational factor would most likely have a foundational base of fear.
Now I must add here that not all social phenomenon (such as the attitude toward cattle in India) is directly the result of evolution, as some “cultural materialists” assume. Human behavior statistics accumulated by such groups as Google, and modification and manipulation techniques learned by the sciences of human behavior, make the artificial creation of such social phenomena possible. In other words, we not only eat sugary foods because at some point during human evolution eating sweet foods gave a survival/reproductive advantage, but also because corporate research, advertising, and marketing has learned to prey upon mechanisms evolution created. (The person who asks what a pretty and shapely girl in a bathing suit holding an icy beer in hand is doing in a beer advertisement for men is a person unlikely to comprehend the facts presented herein.)
By the way, the average young man in this age apparently is ignorant to the fact that he has fears. You see tattoos on arms saying “No Fear,” and you see bumper stickers on young men’s vehicles saying “No Fear.” Naturally, from an evolutionary perspective, the female would have a greater tendency to flee than the male, either to back him up or to seek the support of other females away from the confrontation. Nevertheless, when you try to advise the young man through logical discourse that the desire to fight is by definition a reaction of fear (fight-or-flee-or-freeze), he gets pissed and wants to fight.
fear, noun: 1. An emotion experienced in anticipation of some specific pain or danger (usually accompanied by a desire to flee or fight [or an inability to do either (freeze)]). 2. A feeling of profound respect for someone or something. 3. An anxious feeling. (WordNet 3.0 database, edited)
That is to say, for some reason we currently seem to have an epidemic of individuals who are afraid to admit that they are afraid. But I suppose that is beside the point.
Anyway, back to the fear factor.
In the Jewish Torah and the Old Testament, Commandments are given in regard to the consumption of specific “food.” Dietary Laws are found in Leviticus Chapter 11 and Deuteronomy Chapter 14. Certain animals were designated as “clean” to eat — those with cloven hoofs which chewed the cud such as cattle, goats, sheep, deer, et cetera. All fish with fins and scales, and insects of the locust family were also “clean.” The pig and the camel, however, were given the “unclean” status and were not to be eaten. All carnivorous birds, sea creatures without fins and scales, most insects, rodents, reptiles, and et cetera were “unclean.” This is the essence of the Dietary Laws, and because of their supposed divine origin, the Laws were once followed to the T by every believer. Yet, you may ask, “What motivated the believer to blindly follow the Dietary Laws?” And the answer is fear. After all, no believer would want to evoke a god’s wrath upon him/her self?
Regardless of whether the Dietary Laws were of Divine Origin or the product of vivid imaginations trying to invent motivations or justification for advantageous behavior, some of the “Laws” can be found to give an evolutionary advantage to people ignorant of microorganisms, toxicity, and healthy eating habits.
But surely in this modern age we’ve advanced past the point of needing myths and “boo games” to scare individuals into doing what is best for themselves and society. Shouldn’t we just tell individuals the truth of the matter? Shouldn’t the children of India be taught that cattle are protected because they are necessary for the well being of society? Shouldn’t they be taught that most of what they feel and hear about the matter is the result of stories made up to stimulate the population into doing what has been deemed best for all? Why create a “reality” for youngsters based on illusion? Shouldn’t children who are taught the Old Testament Dietary Laws also be taught that most of what they feel and hear about the matter is the result of stories made up to stimulate believers into doing what has been deemed best for the group and for themselves? Shouldn’t they be taught sound scientific reasons for eating certain foods while avoiding others. Shouldn’t they be taught what is safe to eat in emergency situations?
Seems to me such “boo games” and myths are setting children up for a fall. Seems to me such stories can do more harm than good.
Say, as an example, that a Hindu family from India visits a married daughter in the USA. Say the youngest child of the family accompanies her brother-in-law to a local hardware store. Suppose that the brother-in-law – either as a result of ignorance or unmindful spontaneity – gets a Chef Salad for himself and the young girl while away from the others. Suppose the meat in the Chef Salad is strips of roast beef. Suppose the youngster – who had never experienced meat in her diet and didn’t know what she was eating other than it was a “Chef Salad” – throughly enjoyed the flavor and ate every bit. At this point the stories she had been told to discourage her from eating meat could cause her to suffer psychological trauma. At this point the illusory stories would do more harm than good.
Also, the disgust and outrage displayed by others could magnify the psychological trauma. In fact, the trauma suffered by an individual after violating a “learned” religious rule and/or social convention is primarily the consequence of the reaction of others rather than the consequence of the experience in and of itself. Of course, the “lessons learned” must be based mainly on emotion instead of unemotional logical discourse in order for trauma to occur and the reaction of others to have sufficient effect to be traumatic. And the reactions of others leading to trauma can be as subtle as glances, shushing, and whispers. The imagination would fill in the blanks.
Now I guess the term “unemotional logical discourse” may be a bit misleading since language itself is a container for emotion and imagery. Could you imagine trying to teach a child language by speaking through a voice synthesizer in order to remove all emotional tonal variances? Could you imagine trying to teach a child language by hiding behind a screen so that body language, gestures, and facial expressions couldn’t be associated with any sound, sign, or symbol? Can you imagine a child not being permitted to touch anything or see an image that could be associated to a sound, sign, or symbol? I doubt language as we all know and use it could be learned in such a case.
The Hindu Girl who had eaten the Chef Salad made with strips of roast beef and then became aware of the fact would very likely need psychological counseling; that is, providing she had been emotionally and verbally conditioned to believe that the experience would be detrimental to her welfare and/or would cause her to be rejected by friends, family, and peers. But doing the counseling the counselor would be in a bit of a dilemma.
In order to help her overcome the conditioned response (psychological trauma) he would need to help restore her self-esteem. (Self-esteem is the degree of esteem that the individual presumes is held by others in regard to him/her self. No non-social animal (animals not part of a herd/flock/group/pack/society) needs so called “self-esteem.”) The psychologist would be required to demonize the brother-in-law but keep the girl feeling a least a slight degree of guilt; otherwise, the initial pleasure received from eating the roast beef may develop into an unconscious option for satisfying hunger. One solution to the dilemma is to teach the girl self-compassion instead of restoring her self-esteem. Lots of linguistic dancing goes on around the term self-compassion. But basically the girl can be taught that eating the roast beef was disgusting and just plain horrible, but she should forgive herself for the deed. The inhibitions are restored and lots of psychological counseling would be in order. But when treatment and medicines are in the hand of a capitalistic economy, money comes before patient as a necessity for the therapist and doctor. Although, admittedly, when social control is a major concern, regardless of the economic system, the patient’s interest would be secondary to the objective of social control.
If social control in India seemed to be slipping out of the hands of the government, or India started having a problem with individuals eating cattle, then measures could be taken to tighten the control. For instance, meat-eaters visiting India (or those Indians convicted of meat-eating) could be required to register with the police. Their pictures and addresses could be put on the Internet. This tactic would assuredly stir up fear in the neighborhoods where the meat-eaters resided. The community would become scared and want protection from the meat-eaters. They would thus give up rights, that they wouldn’t otherwise give up, just for the sake of being protected from the meat-eaters.
The public would be subject to sensationalism (in regard to meat-eaters) at this point more-so than ever before.
Writers and movie-makers could jump on the bandwagon to reel some of the profits their way. Novels could be written and movies made about the terrible atrocity committed by a fictional meat-eater. The public has a tendency to stereotype and thus may pass the characterization of the fictional meat-eater to those living in their community. In fact, the term meat-eater can be substituted with a word that evokes even more emotion but has a similar meaning, i.e., predator.
At first I started to say, “carnivore.” But the emotional significance of the word predator is much more powerful and may even result in unconscious learning transference. Just think about the predator character in the 1987 film Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Wow! An atomic blast was required to eliminate the threat (character). The government of a nation (in which the vast majority of the population were vegetarian) could take away all sorts of rights and do nearly anything they wanted with “meat-eaters” by switching the term used to predators.
Also, a so called predator could serve as the perfect scapegoat. Instead of taking into consideration the fear that the girl had previously acquired (in regard to meat-eating) as a result of experiencing the emotion and rhetoric expressed by peers and others, instead of taking into consideration the effect that the reaction of others (in regard to the event) would have on her, the “predator” could be blamed for any and all trauma suffered by the girl. The framework of permissible thought would be limited to blaming the brother-in-law and spouting lots of other nonsense along the same line.
Furthermore, the term predator would likely result in such stereotyping that the emotion felt toward the brother-in-law would be equivalent to the emotion held in regard to a person who had hacked a cow to death in a field and chopped off some meat for consumption. In fact, as previously mentioned, unconscious processes could result in the feeling experienced (by anti-meat-eaters while watching/reading a sensationalistic fictional portrayal of a meat-eater) being passed on to someone accused of meat-eating in the real world.
Both the government “Information Agency” and the Major Media love a sensationalistic story, especially when danger or mystery is supposedly involved. Sensationalism drives up the number of readers/viewers, which translates into greater profits. And sensationalism evokes fear and/or outrage, which translates into more laws and thus greater social control.
Bear in mind that no government no where at no time can give you rights. Governments can only take rights away. Now in order to escape the wrath of the masses, the governmental body has to make the “rights-taken-away” seem necessary for the well-being or protection of the public. Myths have historically played an important role in this process. In this age though the means to create mass emotions (allowing rights-to-be-taken) is in the hands of a few powerful individuals and groups. Noam Chomsky refers to this elite group as, “The Major Media.”
The Major Media didn’t exist during the times of the public hysteria toward supposed witches, aka, The Witch Craze or The Witch Trials. But the being and the brain and the tendency for social fear learning that existed and created the phenomenon is still alive and doing well. Look in a mirror if you want to see what the being looks like.