Ashley Montagu, world-revered anthropologist and "generalist," friend of humanity, and fighter for a better future for us all, died peacefully in his sleep Friday, November 26, 1999. We mourn his passing but are grateful for all the meaningful times we shared with him as our friend and mentor across many years, including especially the laughter and the merriment that was so often one of the Ashley's many gifts to a needy world. When discussing longevity, he once told us "The trick is to die young, as late as possible." That he mastered the trick is demonstrated by his having waited until nearly age 95 -- after single-handedly updating in new editions of his three most influential books: MAN'S MOST DANGEROUS MYTH: The Fallacy of Race, The Natural Superiority of women, and The Elephant Man. Ashley will be greatly missed. Our love is with Marjorie, his wonderful wife of almost 70 years, and his three children who survive him.
David Loye, Riane Eisler, and Rod Gorney
Vol. 1, number 2, April, 1999
On March 12, Ashley Montagu was hospitalized for treatment of a heart attack. He returned to his home for further care on March 18th. His devoted wife, and their three children are with him providing loving support.
Roderic Gorney, MD, director of The Ashley Montagu Institute, flew to add his support at this stressful time.
Further news will follow.
THE BULLETIN OF THE ASHLEY MONTAGU INSTITUTE BACK ISSUES
The Bulletin of The Ashley Montagu Institute
Vol. 1, number 1, November, 1998
Preamble, Charter of AMI
Mission Statement of AMI
Hope for Humankind by Roderic Gorney, M.D.
Who is Roderic Gorney, M.D., PhD?Rod
Preamble, Charter of AMI | topÈ
Whereas . . .
For millions of years, our forebears survived primarily through the elaboration of mammalian mutual nurturance into human love, expressed in demonstrative acts of taking care of each other, and
In recent millennia such love increasingly has been reversed into the unlove of taking advantage of one another, and
This reversal has been caused mainly by the diversion of the surpluses created through the basic technologies of civilization from satisfaction of shared need to stimulation of conflict over rivalrous accumulation, and
Relationships dominated by such conflict decrease the loving exchanges of mutual nurturance that underlie fulfillment and peace and increase the unloving exchanges of mutual destructiveness that underlie frustration and war, and
All of us yearn to live in fulfillment and peace, yet today are in grave danger from our own and our neighbors destructiveness, and
Deliverance from this danger rests on grasping and changing its underlying causes, which presently are invisible to all but a few, and
The most comprehensive, scientifically valid, and potentially curative analysis of our jeopardy lies in the unique life work of renowned anthropologist and author, Ashley Montagu, and
Because his illumination of what has gone wrong and how to fix it focuses on humankind overall, thereby bypassing many barriers of geography, ethnicity, gender, history, class, culture, religion, and ideology to the collaboration of all people and peoples in exchanging our shared peril for our mutual comsummation, and
A concerted effort to implement Montaguís wisdom in the global quest for solutions has not yet been attempted,
We hereby constitute The Ashley Montagu Institute, to disseminate, extend, and apply the unique and inclusive thinking of its namesake, by demonstrative acts of nurturant love, so that all people everywhere shall be better able to live and love in peace and fulfillment, in harmony with each other, our fellow beings, and our home on Earth. | topÈ
Mission Statement of AMI | topÈ
The mission of the Ashley Montagu Fund (AMF) is to apply the lifework of its namesake, internationally renowned anthropologist Ashley Montagu, to the alleviation of human suffering and the enhancement of human fulfillment. Thus, uniquely employing the insights of relevant modern science in their selection, design, and implementation, it provides educational and community interventions that reduce poverty and violence to persons and environment, while increasing understanding of our species and the mutual care-giving which is its central strategy for success. | topÈ
HOPE for HUMANKIND* | topÈ
At Ashley Montagu's request, and with his consultation, this presentation was written and delivered by Roderic Gorney as Montagu's response to his selection as 1995 Humanist of the Year by The American Humanist Association. Most of its concepts, and much of its language, are derived from Montaguís writings. The article was published in the 1996 January/February issue of its official organ, The Humanist Magazine.
Roderic Gorney, M.D., PhD.
People everywhere recognize that our species is in danger. Since most threats to our survival are of human origin, they can be understood by human minds and overcome by human effort. By far the most ominous threat of all is not nuclear weapons, over-population, or even poverty. At the risk of seeming romantic, I must tell you at the outset that the critical menace is deficient love.
What is love?
Not the usual omelette of sentimentality, sensuality, and sexuality. Love is not a feeling but a deed. Love is the conferring, through demonstrative acts, of survival benefits upon another in a creatively enlarging manner. Survival benefits consist of all those encouragements, supports, and stimulations needed by the loved person to reach fulfillment.
Given what we now know of the psycho-neurobiology of health, if we could, by some miracle, suddenly assure to every baby and child sufficient love, we could within one generation substantially turn present peril into potential paradise. But what determines whether or not we will understand the need and make the essential effort?
Character. Character is the pervasive set of reactions and responses to challenges and opportunities that is the most crucial distinction between people. Though biology also influences character, the major influence upon it is the outside world as mediated through parenting. Once formed, character is relatively stable and sometimes resistant, but it can be reshaped gradually to become more loving, even into advanced age.
What people do to surmount dangers (presuming equal resources) depends on the character their widely varying parents, cultures, and societies have inculcated in them. Predominant cultures and societies today shape character toward painful frustration by fostering inner and outer conflict. Predominant cultures and societies tomorrow-if any-will be those that instead shape character toward loving fulfillment by fostering inner and outer, harmony.
Does a culture or a society's level of harmony depend mainly on its material wealth? No. Although extreme poverty is a major hazard to well-being of any kind, the harmony of a culture or a society--and therefore its ability to foster love is determined within a wide range of material sufficiencies by the degree to which it accords with or violates the structure of the innate values with which we are born. These values impel the new person to become loved, and loving.
"Innate values" are neither airy abstractions nor rigid instincts but the fundamental behavioral propensities which evolution has refined in us for three or more million years. Since they are only capacities, however, they must be transformed into actual abilities by the pedagogy of science or learning.
A baby's first cry, after the painful journey of birth, is not, as often alleged, a scream of innate aggression; it is the ultimate plea for the succor of love. But because we humans have no rigid biological instincts directing a mother's response to the baby's rudimentary signal, she must learn how to understand and respond lovingly. If her character is generally nurturant, and not too blinded by inhibiting learned conflicts, the baby will quickly teach her how to fulfill his or her needs. And at the same time, simultaneously and by the same act, the baby will fulfill hers.
From the moment of birth, love is thus a two-way street. The baby is equipped not only to receive survival benefits but to confer them upon the mother. If put to the breast right after birth, the baby will receive the survival benefits of vital nourishment and, by its suckling, stimulate reflexes in the mother that confer upon her the survival benefits of helping to eject the placenta and constrict her uterus to stop bleeding. In this beautiful example is to be found the model of all latter exchanges of survival benefits between lover and loved.
The new baby's built in potential includes capacities for many other sociable behaviors, which will be expressed if learned. For example, all normal human babies have the capacity for speech but will never speak unless spoken to. The new baby also has innate potential to become both lover and killer; whether either of these is realized will depend upon the learning experiences that form his or her character -- mainly the pervasive fulfillments or frustrations of daily life.
Cultures and Societies
Cultures and societies -- like parents -- are not all equal in their ability to provide and receive love. Those that are the most and least favorable for healthy, loving character development show several identifiable trends. One is the prevalence or absence of imposed inequalities, such as those which discriminate for the purpose of exploitation, those that maim children to make them beggars, those that mutilate girls' genitals to promote chastity.
Another is the degree to which, paralleling the mutuality of baby-mother interaction, the individual can serve both his or her own need and those of the group simultaneously and by the same act. As described by anthropologist Ruth Benedict, this factor differentiates cultures or societies which are "secure" nonaggressive, and friendly from offers which are "insecure," aggressive, and hostile.
As illustration, Benedict cites two yam-growing societies. In the first, a secure society, yams are used only for food, so both the person who grows many yams and the community are benefited simultaneously by the same act. In the second, an "insecure" society, the yams are used not only for food but also by the community as currency to exchange with a neighboring tribe for axeheads. In this society, the person who raises many yams is thrown into conflict because the acts that raise many yams for food also inflate the currency, raising the price of axeheads.
Benedict no doubt would have agreed--and modem clinical data substantiates--that the former kind of society is more likely than the latter to inculcate loving characters. Though she made these observations only on the small nonliterate groups she studied, more recent data show that Benedict's conclusion applies as strongly to the full range of cultures and societies over the last 3,000 years-from ancient Egypt to modern Italy.
For most of human evolution, communities consisted of small nomadic bands of 40 to 50 hunter-gatherers who lived in relative material scarcity because they could not generate, preserve, or even carry extensive surpluses. So, in such a tribe, you shared meager resources with neighbors who were your only social security. No more ethical than we, such people were just being practical. After all, a well fed hyena was no asset, but a well fed friend might be in condition to return your favor another day. Such sharing satisfied both individual needs and those of the group simultaneously and, by the same act, built on the harmony-generating situation of a baby suckling at the mother's breast.
Intensified Food Production
Twelve thousand years ago, probably in the Middle East, clever people invented agriculture and animal husbandry--the technologies that have most portentously changed human life. Suddenly it became possible for the first time for a nomadic band to settle in a fixed village of maybe 600 or more people by generating, preserving, and storing surpluses. These accumulations of property could help you survive the inevitable catastrophes, such as fire, flood and earthquake.
The crucial point is that now the hunger of a neighbor--or maybe a stranger from the other side of town was no longer a liability but a valuable, resource that could transform that person into a commodity you very much needed: cheap labor. By not sharing, by letting that person go hungry, you could not only smoke, freeze, or dry and store the leftovers for your own later use but you could increase that person's eagerness to work for you for low wages. You could thereby further enrich yourself and impoverish him or her. Moreover, very soon, you could also use that person as a soldier to protect your surpluses from outside marauders. Here was the beginning of organized warfare. In 12 millennia, such unloving circumstances have brought us to the present decline in human relationships in which it is less and less likely for the needs of the individual and the group to be satisfied simultaneously by the same act. Instead, we have come to accept as "normal," that we increasingly must take advantage of, rather than take care of, each other. It is these unloving--and decidedly abnormal--deeds which have brought about the poverty, pollution, and violence of our current world reality. And because 12,000 years seems to us like forever, most of us have no awareness that only 500 generations ago our human relationships were so much more loving.
Based on all this, if we are determined to cure our troubles, what must we do? First, we must relinquish our much prized despair--the excuse for not risking the possible disappointment of trying and failing.
Second, we must give up the wholly erroneous (though comforting) rationalization for our brutality: that it is the legacy of our primate forebears. They were no doubt generally as egalitarian, peaceable, and loving toward one another as are present-day apes--as was our own species until 12 millennia ago, when our mismanagement of agrarian surpluses set us on our present destructive course.
Third, if we want to know what we are born for, we must know what we are born as: the virtuoso nurturers of the planet who are fundamentally designed to live as though to live and love were one.
And finally, we must make the suitable adjustments in our society to satisfy for us all not only our basic biological needs but our basic behavioral needs as well -- our need for love, work, and play, for curiosity, experimentation, sound thought; for speech, song, dance; for the encouragements, stimulations, and supports of being, socially as well as individually, both loved one and lover.
What would it mean specifically?
It would mean putting each baby to the breast of his or her mother the moment of birth and doing everything else possible to strengthen the mother's and doing everything else possible to strengthen the mother's and baby's joy in each other and, in that way, launching healthy character development that will continue throughout life.
It would mean teaching children around the world how to think soundly rather than what to think mechanically. It would mean teaching them to test for themselves the proposition that evolution has prepared us not for acquisitive violence but with the innate value to become warm, loving persons, and that, if we don't accomplish that, nothing else matters.
It would mean putting into practice the wisdom that human survival requires access by all people to such full and free realization of their wholesome potentialities. It would mean forthrightly facing the quandary of what to do with human life other than "make a living" It would mean resolutely eliminating damaging commerce, such as the arms trade. It would mean a global program to reduce population, and shift our dependencies on nuclear and fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. It would mean substituting a continuous planetary audit, with appropriate protection of endangered species, elimination of pollution, and remedying toxic social conflicts.
It would mean applying the insight that most of the people in prisons--and many of those in mental hospitals--are there because of the unstable, unloving conditions of their early lives. It would mean putting to use the extensively documented evidence that punishment is an ineffective way to change behavior and that soothing touch is one of the most effective.
It would mean acknowledging the proof that people can change profoundly all their lives and then doing all we know how to do to help them change healthfully. It would mean working consistently toward caring for other peoples and other species--as well as the inanimate world--as family, recognizing the validity of the biblical induction that we are all indeed each other's "keepers." It would mean dealing with everything on earth in cognizance that, as Lewis Thomas says, it is part of the life of a single cell. And it would mean living with delight and dedication to be contributing to the betterment of all.
But as we all know, nearly everywhere there is crushing poverty, religious and ethnic enmity, and exploitation of people, other species, and the earth. Sometimes it may even seem that we have passed the point of no return -- that we cannot limit population, harmonize differences, and decontaminate the planet in time.
But in a time of crisis, the only philosophically tenable position for a pessimist is optimism. So, all we need to do now is to learn to live again with the loving values of our prehistoric forebears--but amidst the material sufficiency possible today.
Now, is that a problem? | topÈ
Who is Roderic Gorney, MD, PhD? | topÈ
A professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, Dr. Gorney has focused his clinical teaching on the fundamentals of mental examination and the combined dynamic psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy of adults. His research, conducted under the auspices of the departmentís Program on Psychosocial Adaptation and the Future, which he founded in 1971 and now directs, has concentrated on the impact on adults of dramatic entertainment and on the cultural determinants of achievement, aggression, and psychological distress. In support of these studies, he has been awarded grants from foundations and other sources totaling over $650,000. Results have been published in the leading professional journals, The Archives of Psychiatry, the American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of Communication.
A widely recognized specialist in psychiatry, Dr. Gorney has become also an internationally recognized generalist in human characteristics. In reaching this perspective, he has benefited from 35 years as mentee to Professor Ashley Montagu.
Gorney is the author of professional articles ranging in subject from the vagaries of the menstrual cycle to the psychodynamics of SCUBA diving. He also authored THE HUMAN AGENDA (Simon and Schuster, 1972; Bantam Books, 1973; Guild of Tutors, 1979), a ground-breaking study of the evolution of human values, which was unanimously acclaimed by reviewers from The American Journal of Psychiatry to Newsweek, chosen as an alternate Book-of-the Month Club selection, and nominated for a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He is currently working on two new books, a biography of Ashley Montagu and a study of the evolution of love.
In 1997, in furtherance of these interests, Dr. Gorney founded The Ashley Montagu Institute (AMI) which focuses on illuminating the critical role of human mutual care-taking, and on applications of that understanding to improving our chances of survival and fulfillment. Ashley Montagu serves as Honorary Chair and Senior Consultant to The Board of Advisors of AMI.
The Ashley Montagu Institute builds on the life work of its namesake on the vital role in human well-being of love conceived as deeds of nurturance.
We provide scientific understanding of the source, the identity, and the effects of love, or of its deprivation.
We recruit human, financial, and social support for programs that increase loving interchanges and decrease unloving ones.
For example, increasing access of impoverished peoples to credit is a deed of loving nurturance, which in turn multiplies their loving deeds toward one another and their communities. The same may be said of fostering among the privileged the simple living patterns, which can simultaneously eradicate addiction to "things" and conserve materials and the environment for everyone. Likewise, for providing education that illuminates the crucial role of love in human survival while conveying effective means of preventing violent conflicts that jeopardize us.
AMIís daily emphasis on raising these issues and assisting members and staff to resolve them ensures the best use of all resources and in itself sparks a stream of such deeds of loving nurturance.
©The Ashley Montagu Institute, Roderic Gorney M.D., 760 Westwood Plaza 90095-1759
Phone: (310) 476-3099 or (310) 472-7631