Dr. Michael Laitman To Change the World – Change Man

How Education Can Transform Society

The Secret of Why Crime Is on the Rise

Many studies in criminology cast doubt on the effectiveness of prison sentences as a means of crime prevention. For this reason, the influence of prisons on inmates—especially with regard to deterrence and rehabilitation—is a topic that requires serious rethinking. This is especially true now, as many countries are experiencing a rise in crime rate, both in the number of incidents and in their severity. Moreover, the data show that most inmates who have been released from prison end up returning, sooner or later, on similar charges.

There are many causes for the rise in criminal activity, but they all share a common denominator: the inability of our society to provide a proper education on how to be a human being, how to be humane. On the one hand, our children are exposed to crime, violence, aggressive behavior, and competitiveness at a very young age. On the other hand, the institutions charged with educating our children neglect core values and instead, wrongly focus on grades and tests.

Parents contribute to this wrong focus as well, by asking (usually when the child returns home): “How was school? What did you learn? How did you do on the test?” In other words, grades are also the parent’s primary concern.

In addition to the pressure of grades and tests, our children are also under constant social pressure. They have to cope with fierce competition, struggles over social status, envy, lust, violence, and drugs—phenomena we treat as “necessary evils.” But are they really so?

What if, instead of tests and grades, we focused on educating our youth on how to be human beings, on how to be humane? What if the primary goal for our children was for them to become educational role models, good persons who know how to communicate with others properly, who know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad?

Is this where we have gone wrong? Can it be that we are not raising children to be humane from the moment of birth? Is it possible that they are not being educated to resolve problems in the family, and thus do not receive the necessary tools and knowledge that will benefit their own children, the next generation?


What Everybody Ought to Know About Children’s Education

All too often, we hear of children being physically abused by their parents; yet, emotional abuse is more frequent, though seldom reported. The logical conclusion is that such children will be ill prepared to become parents themselves, unless they receive good examples elsewhere; for example, through an education where they are taught how to be good parents, taught to understand what kids are like and how they should be treated. Even the best of parents find it difficult to provide good examples for their children.

In today’s homes, children grow up watching violent movies and TV series; they often play violent computer games with stories of violent crimes and sexual assaults. At school, they find themselves in a ruthless society that threatens their personal safety; where the more powerful are more successful; and where, in the end, they are judged only by their grades.

What’s more, good grades are not enough. They need to have better grades than their peers in order to be respected and appreciated. This is how success is measured in today’s school system. Those who are born with natural talents learn how to use those talents against others, according to the examples they see. The weaker ones use their cunning and politeness to compensate for their relative lack of talent. Seemingly well behaved—but really not—they simply come to know their limits and master the art of getting what they want, within the boundaries of society’s laws, but just as maliciously.

Our children don’t grow up in a vacuum. Society’s patterns and rules continually shape our children, and as such, carry the most responsibility for how our children turn out.  Society’s “shoulders” carry the collective weight of the next generation.

We can’t afford to continue to neglect the most important thing in life: learning how to be good people in a good society. For example, we are not educating people about how to be good spouses and how to maintain healthy, family life; otherwise, families will continue to fall apart. We’re not teaching people how to relate to others; we need to give them the sense that they are part of an integral society where all are interdependent. Any person, in any society, who doesn’t feel mutual dependence will act out of egoistic drives and thus do what is good for himself or herself, even if it’s illegal and even if he or she knows that a punishment awaits after the fact. Such people are dangerously uninhibited because they did not receive the right examples.

In any egoistic society—currently, our society—anyone can do what he or she wants, as long as it’s not against the law, as long as the harm remains within the boundaries that the society has set. But in an integral society, a completely different law is in power. In an integral society, a person must give, must be integral, and must be aware of the interconnections that exist with everyone. Only when these conditions are met, can society’s citizens be called “law-abiding.”

This law of general participation is called “mutual guarantee” because the condition of integrality requires that everyone be everyone else’s guarantors. This is why we need to show everyone how these laws operate. We see that Nature, ecology, and everything else that happens in our integral, global world are pushing us to become partners. However, we are not ready to meet this condition of mutual guarantee because we have yet to receive the education that will allow for it. This is the source of all our troubles.


Integral Education—the Method that Can Save Our Children

Through Integral Education, we can prevent people from breaking the law. As part of Integral Education, we can inculcate models of good connections that are taught at school, even at the kindergarten level. For example, instead of sitting in rows of desks in front of a teacher, children will sit in a circle, communicating with each other and learning to understand one another. They will experiment with rising above their egos in order to connect and build a group. This will be similar to an elite unit or a sports team where everyone has to unite and understand each other in order to succeed; that is, attaining success only through their joint efforts and tight bonding.

We need to teach people how to be their own police officers. They need to know what is required of them in order to live successfully in an integral world. With practice according to what they learn, the correct actions will become a habit, a second nature. Every unusual incident in the integral classroom will be “treated” through a court-type discussion. In mock trials, the children themselves will determine what was right and what was wrong by presenting all the arguments in the matter—first one way, and then another. Through this process of scrutiny from all sides, everyone involved will be moved and personally affected, gaining impressions beyond the previously narrow view of “self.” Until our children mature through this process, they are not educated in the human sense of the word.

Education in the human sense of the word means that a child receives and experiences examples from real life situations. Integrally, this will be done through discussions, court hearings, and role-playing. There will be a judge, an advocate, a prosecutor, and a jury. The entire process will be filmed, and the children will later watch the video and analyze their behaviors.

With everyone participating in the discussion, along with role changes and scene re-enactments, the children will quickly discover how their views can change from those of just a few moments ago. This makes for a very enriching process, one that gives the children the opportunity to “absorb” several different roles and characters. This way, they learn to understand others even when the other’s views are opposite. This is important because as a child experiences the “view” from both sides—first from the defendant’s side and then from the prosecutor’s side—he or she grasps that there may well be another opinion that is completely opposite to his, but nonetheless still valid.

Also as part of Integral Education, the children will go on many outings to places like banks, hospitals, factories, plants, and even prisons. Through these outings, they will see how people work and what motivates them.

These outings will also be analyzed regarding the purpose of such visits. Here too, children will learn that the whole world is connected, that everyone creates something for everyone else. In this way, they will broaden their horizons.

If we begin to rear our children with Integral Education and persist with this approach throughout their school years, we will all move much closer to a balanced society, a good society where everyone’s personal safety will be restored. We will not fear sending our children to school or letting them venture out in the evenings.

An integral society is one that always thinks of everyone—a mutuality where everyone benefits, unlike a democratic society that focuses on the individual, maintaining that any one individual can do anything he or she wants as long as it’s not harmful and as long as the activity doesn’t cause anarchy. In an integral society, though, the benefit of everyone must come first, before individual, egoistic calculations.


This Is Why Prisons Don’t Work

Rehabilitation is often accepted as one of the reasons for imprisonment of those who have violated society’s laws, along with deterrence and punishment. Yet, no significant effort is made to achieve that reformation, to turn law-breakers into good citizens. Thus, incarceration is really either a matter of punishment or a matter of public protection, depending on the situation.

Further, studies show that the majority of those who do time in prison eventually return, usually on similar charges. And, for far too many, prison becomes a way of life, despite disgraceful conditions and lack of dignity. This, then, begs the question: Is punishment in itself an acceptable justification for incarceration, or is society obligated to provide a means by which inmates can become corrected human beings according to the laws of an integral society? What is the correct role of prisons?

In the remote past, there were countries for which jailing was never implemented because the citizens knew that it served no useful purpose. Instead, for example, if a person was caught stealing, then that person had to work in order to make payment for the offense. Each crime had its appropriate corrective punishment, but it was never incarceration. However, even this approach will not achieve the goal. If we want to truly correct our situation for the better, then we must understand that the needed correction is not in punishments, neither in material matters; rather, it’s in education, whether inside or outside of a prison population.

This is why prisons must become schools. During their free time, inmates must be educated; they must learn psychology and history; and most importantly, they must learn what it means to be a human being. Though Integral Education, they will begin to see how our world is interconnected; they will learn the nature of the connections that exist among everyone. Precisely because inmates are under the care and authority of the prison, they must be taken through an intensive educational program, one that is designed for successful reentry into our global, interconnected and interdependent world.


See How Easily Prisons Can Be Reformed – To Make Inmates Productive Members of Society

Human traits divide into two primary groups: internal, which we received at birth by heredity; and external, which we acquired through education, through the environment, the media, and society in general. Neither group depends on the individual, even though both design one’s personality and determine one’s fate. Therefore, a prisoner cannot benefit from his or her positive traits because the prison environment doesn’t provide any support by way of good examples.

Therefore, the rehabilitation framework must change drastically. In this new framework, for example, inmates will be divided into groups of 15-20 with a lead psychologist assigned to work with them and organize them. They will watch lectures and engage in mutual discussions on such topics as: the structure of human society; the structure of the human being; human relations; human psychology; our nature according to our perception of reality and our behavior with one another; the ego that always governs us; and how we can look at ourselves from aside, with constructive criticism.

Every inmate needs to become a good psychologist, one who understands him or herself and can see the world from different angles. Once released, an inmate who received such training can become an Integral Education Youth Instructor, because he or she has experienced the negative path and has been reformed in prison. Once out of prison, such a person becomes an asset to society because of the acquired ability to deeply sympathize with both ways of life. This makes for a very special person, one who is now a very positive and beneficial element in society.

Thus, a prisoner who trains to become an integral educator is no longer an ordinary person. In the process of training, he or she becomes a special individual, and this is how the training should be organized and conduced. Successful completion of the training is the primary condition for prison release.

Once released, the inmate will pass on to others what he or she learned, serving as good examples of the integral method. Graduates will join the staff of juvenile delinquency facilities, where they will have the opportunity to demonstrate over the next six months whether or not they can educate the delinquents, change them, and set them straight.

In summary, while in jail, each inmate will take mandatory training in Integral Education. In fact, such training is not just for prison inmates; everyone must eventually go through this training. Otherwise, without this training, it will be impossible to correct any of the crises we are currently experiencing in education, in economy, or in families. Like never before, we are experiencing a psychological crisis and a crisis in health, with a startling increase in drug abuse, depression, and despair. As long as we fail to break the egoistic interests that profit from these global, social crises, we will not see an end to them.


How Prisons Can Serve as Positive Examples to the World

Prisons can serve as great examples to the rest of the world. If we succeed in prisons, we will also succeed in what seems to us as “normal” society. The goal of turning prisons into the equivalent of universities in order to “construct” human beings is nothing short of a revolution in social perception. The criteria for youths and adults, men and women, are all the same. Whatever crime is committed, the offender needs only to feel, understand, and see him or herself as an integral and interdependent part of the environment. This is the foundation from which an inmate continues to grow.

By announcing and promoting the inmates’ success in the media, society at large will see what it needs in order to correct itself. In this way, everyone will learn that there is not such a big difference between those on the “inside” and those on the “outside.” This is because in regard to the laws of the world, the laws of Nature, ecology, and human relations, we are all felons. All of us are to blame for what is happening in the world. There are no victims here; we’re all equally responsible, both for the good and for the bad.

We are living in an integral world that is now presenting itself as round, without beginning or end. So, there is no one in particular to blame. All the negative phenomena we now observe in human society are caused by everyone. Therefore, we must all achieve the nature of a uniform, integral society; we must all begin to relate differently to ourselves, to others, and to Nature—which created us, and everything else as well.


Written by Michael Laitman
Michael Laitman is a global thinker dedicated to generating a transformational shift in society through a new global education, which he views as the key to solving the most pressing issues of our time. He is the Founder of the ARI Institute, Professor of Ontology & Theory of Knowledge, PhD in Philosophy, MS in Medical Cybernetics. You can find him on Google+, YouTube and Twitter

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