2 September 2015

Stopping Filicide, Respecting Children

Or Removing the Causes of the
Murder, Humiliation and Abuse of Children
  
Carlos Cardoso Aveline


Every child has the right to a life that is physically safe and emotionally stable


A great blessing is now waiting for all nations of the Western civilization.  

The bliss will descend upon us as we stop promoting or accepting the practice of filicide, that is, the murder, humiliation, mutilation, denigration, abuse and abandonment of children by parents and adults in general.

Filicide is a multidimensional phenomenon. It takes place both consciously and subconsciously. It is individual and collective. Up to some extent, every human individual has been its victim: and no one is entirely innocent.

Children face difficulties in public schools. They are exposed to watching harmful TV shows. They suffer from fear of abandonment, live amidst the breaking apart of traditional family, share the poverty of their parents, and face the early possibilities of drugs and crime. And yet they still smile, play, laugh and bring joy to the adults around them.

In the first half of 21st century, hundreds of thousands of children around the globe are the victims of massacres, or fight in military conflicts and are made to participate in terror-related activities.

In the Middle East and elsewhere, children are trained by their Muslim parents and teachers to think that it is a heroic act to kill and to die in coward acts of terror promoted for the greater glory of Allah, and of Islam. Middle-aged people send their children to death, and then receive money from “charity organizations” controlled by some oil-exporting countries. 

As a way to brain-wash and recruit young Muslims, older terrorists promise them that once  they die in acts of senseless violence, they will have an eternal life in Paradise, and will have a number of beautiful young ladies at their disposal. For some reason, such teachers and the leaders of terror are in no hurry to go to Paradise. In Gaza and elsewhere, they do whatever they can to escape the Israel Defense Forces, which aim at killing them in selective actions, and avoid as much as possible causing harm to  innocent civilians.

In Western countries, there are other ways to deceive children and cause suffering and death to them. Some of the common ways to destroy children are the practice of abortion in unnecessary situations, domestic violence, verbal aggression, street-dwelling children, sexual abuse, child prostitution, and a general absence of due emotional protection. To these examples one must add the exposure of millions of children to TV shows and video games which promote or exalt violence, criminality and other forms of disrespect for life.

If children are a symbol of human future, killing or abusing them, even in indirect ways, is to destroy the common tomorrow.  To stop collective self-destruction is not easy, for we don’t even know why exactly it occurs.  We can study the topic. Argentine psychoanalyst Arnaldo Rascovsky (1907-1995) was a pioneer in investigating the causes of the tendency to destroy that which is most valuable in human family.  

By being a Jew, Rascovsky had a first-hand knowledge regarding injustice to defenseless beings.

Since its earliest known origins our civilization has been characterized by a bleeding conflict between parents and children. Rascovsky uses the term filicide to designate a complex phenomenon, largely hidden and denied: the physical and emotional violence of adult people against children.  Rascovsky explains:

“Acts of partial or total aggression and destruction inflicted by parents on their own children are universal, being found in all social groups, both primitive and modern. The facts supporting these statements are recorded throughout the world.”   He adds:   

“…Corporal or mental punishment, neglect or abandonment, mutilation or murder of children, infants, or youths - among which war is the foremost example - are practiced in all regions of the globe.” [1]

In order to understand the fact, one must study the primitive emotions of children. Psychoanalysis says that the first phase in the life of a human being is oral cannibalistic.

The child “bites” some parts of the mother’s body, the breasts, and swallows part of the maternal body: the milk.  Later on, the oral cannibalistic phase is expanded to include other kinds of food. The natural world from which these foods come is experienced as an extension of the mother’s body.

The expression “mother nature” didn’t appear by mere coincidence: the sweet body of the baby’s mother is the first level of natural environment. “With the ingestion of the breast”, Rascovsky writes, “the oral cannibalistic phase offers the supreme alternative between eating (destroying) and being eaten (destroyed). Actually, the urgency of the disintegrating impulse is irrepressible and constitutes the organism’s essential expression: the fight for life.” [2] 

Thus, for mammals, to bite is a way of defending themselves and of attacking.  In adult life, to bite one’s nails or eating too much are among the habits directly related to the oral cannibalistic phase. This period of human development is symbolically present in the New Testament.  In the last supper, Jesus distributes pieces of bread to his disciples, and says:

“Take, eat: this is my body.”

Then Jesus holds a cup of wine and hands it to them saying:

“Drink you all of it; for this is my blood.” (Matthew 26: 26-28)

These clearly cannibalistic images were transformed in a ritual which is even now regularly reproduced in the ceremony of Eucharist (Catholicism) or Communion (Protestant churches), and in the yearly celebration of the Last Supper.  During such celebrations, the public is disgustingly invited to eat a piece of Christ’s body, and to drink his blood.

The primitive attitude of wishing to destroy in order to live is influential in various other ways.  During adult life, the tendency is mitigated.  In stressing circumstances, a strong “emotional regression” takes place which makes the old destructive patterns of the first childhood emerge and cause harm to one’s own children, or to children in general.  Whenever there is a social situation of profound decay, such a regression takes place. Thus children and young people are destroyed in large scale emotionally, and sometimes physically.  

Aggression to young and weaker people is a long time tradition. The myths forming the basis of Western Culture focus on the conflict and alternation between two situations: the Filicide (when the parents kill or cause harm to their children) and the Parricide (when the children kill or cause harm to their parents). The most famous among such myths is that of Oedipus, which Sigmund Freud chose as the foundation of modern Psychoanalysis.  Yet the legend of Oedipus is more than the story of a son who unknowingly kills his father. Before that, king Laius had consciously decided to cause the death of his newly born son Oedipus.

The myth narrates that an oracle had prophesied to Laius: he would be killed by his own child. When Oedipus is born, Laius gives orders for his son to be abandoned on the mountain Cithaeron to die out of cold and starvation.  The baby is found there by a shepherd and saved.

Oedipus lives his first years in foreign lands. Upon reaching adult life, he decides to travel. During a violent incident in a crossroads, the lad kills an unknown individual, who happens to be his father Laius.  Later on, Oedipus marries his own mother, also having no knowledge of who was she to him. When he finally comes to know the facts, he blinds himself in despair and abandons the city where he once ruled and was happy.

Freud built Psychoanalysis on the basis of the Oedipus complex, or the impulse leading the son instinctively to compete with his father for the possession of his mother. Rascovsky accepts the importance of the Oedipus complex. However, unlike Freud, Rascovsky looks at the situation also from the point of view of the child. He is thus able to see the vast process of collective and individual Filicide, produced by the feelings of fear and anger which take hold of fathers and mothers who are immature and unable to feel deep love.

Rascovsky explains that the first act of resentment, in such a conflict, does not come from the son; it comes from a powerful parent, and is addressed against a defenseless newly-born.  The rancor of the son towards the father is posterior, and it emerges as a defense against the Filicide.[3]

The idea of killing children is present all over Western culture.  

Infanticide threatens the great heroes of antiquity. Moses, as a newly-born, barely escapes death by being abandoned down the river in a papyrus basket coated with tar and pitch. In the legends of the New Testament, newly born Jesus was almost miraculously saved from Herod’ order to slay every child from two years old and under.  (Matthew 2: 16)

In various passages of the Jewish Torah, or Christian “Old Testament”, God demands the sacrifice and the death of first-born children. 

In Genesis, 22, the Lord gives Abraham an order to go to the land of Moriah and burn there his son Isaac. Abraham obeys. When the boy is bound on top of dry wood in an altar and ready to be burnt alive, the Lord tells Abraham to release the child. The Lord makes Abraham know that it was a test; He wanted to see whether Abraham was willing to obey in any circumstance. 

From the psychoanalytical point of view, however, such personal God is a projection coming from the inner world of Abraham himself.

The habit of circumcising newly-born babies is a ritual to replace the ancient sacrificial murder of sons. It is a “genital submission” of boys to the father’s authority, as Rascovsky says: a symbolic castration, through which fathers exorcize the possibility that their sons become future rivals.

According to Psychoanalysis, circumcision is therefore part of the wider process of incest-prohibition, which paves the way to the sublimation of love, and to the building of an organized society. [4]

In the book of Genesis, the Lord makes circumcision obligatory and condemns those who are not circumcised to exile, for he says:  

“…And if any male who is uncircumcised fails to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his kin; he has broken My covenant.” (Gn, 17:14).

The life of a baby is not easy, therefore.

Sometimes, life ends even before starting. Abortion takes place by the millions around the world in the 21st century, even in countries where it is against the law; and it constitutes one of the grossest forms of filicide. Yet the interruption of pregnancy is not the only form of aggression between different generations.  Military activity cannot be underestimated in that department.  Rascovsky writes: 

“…Since remotest antiquity, war represents the sacrificial pyre on which the killing of the offspring is consummated.” [5]

And he adds something that explains the cult of hatred and violence existing today in some “religious” communities:

“Among the diverse causes of war, an important one is the need to perpetuate human sacrifice in the form of the holocaust of the children with all of the primitive sociocultural meanings it implies. (…) War is one of the highly organized methods for holding collective paranoid anxiety at an acceptable level by elaborating and projecting guilt onto the enemy.  Thus, the enemy becomes the depository for a dissociated part of the person who is seeking a solution for his or her own inner conflict.” [6]

For millennia, warfare has been a way of legitimizing murder:

“War is the institutionalization of the primitive murder and denigration of children with the consequent denial of their persecutors through idealization. It is social action that executes the compulsion to eliminate children. This expression of parental aggression, though its formal aspects have diminished in the process of civilization, persists and preserves the dependent condition of children imposed by universal cultural models.” [7] 

Renunciation to violence cannot be one-sided: the identification of war as a traditional form of filicide has to be a gradual and inter-cultural process.  The “sweet and peace-loving” appeasement of anti-Semitism and terrorist organizations only produces far greater violence and cruelty. 

Another radical way to destroy childhood, according to Rascovsky, operates through popular television channels. Children now grow while watching violent and criminal films on TV.

After the diagnosis, Rascovsky indicates ways of healing.  Humans do not create problems for which they cannot find solutions. They build their own destiny. The blessings of a healthy relationship between parents and children already exist today, in part. They can be expanded.

“The battle against filicide”, Rascovsky says, “requires the community’s unwavering support for the defense of all children and for the promotion of a more positive relationship between the generations through the intensification of the initial love relationship, parental love; in this way, it can contribute to neutralizing the hypertrophied development of hatred in contemporary society.” [8]

Rascovsky defends the creation of institutions for the education of parents and parental substitutes, aiming at the development of the healthy potentialities of children.  He considers a top priority to constantly denounce every form of abuse and attack against future generations.

This is not enough.  

It will be necessary to stimulate a deeper view of the love between man and woman. Deep and wise affection paves the way to lasting happiness.  Intense love causes a responsible wish to have children. From this comes the ability to love children as they deserve.

The duty of protecting children is shared by all citizens. One must remember what Kahlil Gibran writes in “The Prophet”:

“You may strive to be like [your children], but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.” [9]

As to religious traditions which stimulate violence, it is nigh time for them to realize one basic point: although it is correct to “sacrifice our children”, such a sentence cannot  be taken in a literal way.  It does not mean that killing our children in wars, or attacking them emotionally at home, is OK or morally acceptable. The phrase is but a symbol for the need to practice detachment regarding that which we love most.  That is the test faced by Abraham in Genesis, 22.  For our love for children is among the purest forms of affection we may feel.

Symbolic statements referring to the “killing of our dearest ones” are present in Eastern traditions, too, and the Buddhist “Dhammapada”, says:

“A true Brahmana goes scatheless though he have killed father and mother and two kings of the warrior caste and destroyed a kingdom with all its subjects”. [10]

By looking at it in the proper way, one realizes that it is the blind attachment to our loved ones and to social position that must be “killed”.  The wording of the teaching is a symbol for the obligation of non-violently renouncing to any and all unexamined, or subconscious, bonds of a personal nature.

That does not mean one must renounce all authority regarding children.  The failure to put limits to our little ones and to properly educate them with the necessary degree of severity is a disguised form of carelessness and of absence of real love for them. Those who care for children establish limits to them and give them emotional stability.

One word must be said regarding the idea of “killing our enemies”, which we find in sacred Scriptures of different religions. It does not mean hating or attacking those who think differently from us, or who belong to a nation diverse from our own. It means instead that we must defeat our real enemies, which are - of course - our own ignorance, our laziness, our fear from the unknown, and self-delusion. 

NOTES:

[1] FILICIDE, the Murder, Humiliation, Mutilation, Denigration, and Abandonment of Children by Parents”, Arnaldo Rascovsky, Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey and London, 1995, 279 pp. Introduction, p. XI.

[2] FILICIDE, the Murder, Humiliation, Mutilation, Denigration, and Abandonment of Children by Parents”, Arnaldo Rascovsky, Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey and London, 1995, 279 pp. See p. 05.

[3] “Filicide…”, see lower half of p. 252.

[4] FILICIDE, the Murder, Humiliation, Mutilation, Denigration, and Abandonment of Children by Parents”, Arnaldo Rascovsky, Jason Aronson, Inc., Northvale, New Jersey and London, 1995, 279 pp. See pp. 69-95.

[5] “Filicide…”, p. 42.

[6] “Filicide…”, pp. 251-252.

[7] “Filicide…”, p. 256.

[8] “Filicide…”, Introduction, pp. XVII e XVIII.  On television: See Filicidio, Violencia y Guerra”, by Arnaldo Rascovsky, Schapire Editor, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1975, 110 pp., p. 64. Also on war:  Filicidio, Violencia y Guerra”, Schapire Editor, 1975, 110 pp., p. 09.

[9] “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran, Senate, 2004, Great Britain, 114 pp., see p. 20.

[10] “The Dhammapada”, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, USA, 1955, Chapter 21, axiom 5, p. 69. See also axiom 6 and commentaries to the passage. 


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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.  


Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.

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