It is interesting to observe the disparity that exists between how we treat ourselves compared to how we treat others, and the contrasting attitudes society holds towards interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships.
We have laws, regulations and customs governing our conduct in society which advise, prescribe and instruct how to interact with and behave towards other people. These laws, regulations and customs let us know what is and what is not acceptable social behaviour.
Yet there seems to be no social contract and no established set of laws or morals that are concerned with how we treat ourselves in our inner world. Morals, ethics and laws only seem to cover interpersonal relationships and interactions. Sure, society becomes concerned if you harm yourself on a physical level, yet is completely indifferent to the way your mind assaults and abuses you.
Seemingly we live in an orderly and law-abiding society which we all pride ourselves on, yet in the inner realm no rules or boundaries are sacred. The very things you would never do to other human beings you do freely to yourself in your inner world, and if you were to treat other people that way, you would be censured, punished or ostracised by the community.
Just imagine for a moment if someone were to suddenly verbally or physically attack you viciously, without any provocation or reason, and continue doing so day after day. You would never put up with that kind of treatment, and you would certainly have the backing of the community in your defence. Yet it seems perfectly acceptable for your own mind to treat you this way, to subject you to all kinds of vile and vicious acts.
When it comes to internal assaults by the mind, it seems anything goes, for they are not witnessed by other people and thus are immune from their judgements and condemnations. Because they are inwardly directed, these acts of violence are free from the moral bounds that constrain our actions towards other persons.
The other salient difference between outer and inner aggression is that in the outer world we are born into a sophisticated and highly developed philosophical and legal system which has taken millennia to develop and provides for our rights within the community and maintains law and order in our society. Also, in the outer world we can get help from others or the law if we are attacked. Indeed an attack upon you is seen as an attack against the whole orderly working of society and that's why in Criminal Law it is The People vs. The Defendant, for a crime against one person is deemed to be a crime against all of the society. By contrast, in the inner world you are entirely on your own and it is wholly up to you and you alone to create and develop from scratch a defence system to protect yourself against the mind's assaults. Certainly you can get advice from others about the various defence strategies you could employ, but ultimately you are all alone on the battlefield and it is a fight between just you and your mind, a fight in which no rules of engagement are followed, no laws of war are obeyed.
Not only are there social regulations and customs that prescribe our conduct in the external domain, but we also possess a sophisticated internal sense of conscience which guides us in our interactions with others and lets us know whether the way we are acting towards them is morally right or wrong. But do we possess a just-as-strongly-developed inner sense which tells us what is right and what is wrong in our interactions with ourselves? Do we ever feel pangs of guilt, stings of shame after we mentally assault or abuse ourselves? Does our conscience ever punish us for our psychological self-abuse or does it too, just like the external society, not care about the internal violence?
Also, with the inner realm, we can never know or see how other people are treating themselves inwardly and how other people deal with internal self-abuse; consequently, as children, we can never learn by example, by observing our role models, as to how to deal with one's mind.
Boris Glikman is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia.
He says: “Writing for me is a spiritual activity of the highest degree. Writing gives me the conduit to a world that is unreachable by any other means, a world that is populated by Eternal Truths, Ineffable Questions and Infinite Beauty. It is my hope that these stories of mine will allow the reader to also catch a glimpse of this universe.”
Boris welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at email@example.com