A study was conducted in 1967 by a man named Martin Seligman. In Part 1 of this study, three groups of dogs were placed in harnesses. Group 1 dogs were briefly put in a harnesses and then released. Groups 2 and 3 consisted of “yoked pairs”. Dogs in Group 2 were given electric shocks at random times, which the dog could end by pressing a lever. The dogs in Group 3 were connected to a Group 2 dog and received a shock whenever Dog 2 received its shock. However, the lever did not stop the shock for Dog 3. Thus, for Group 3 dogs, the shock was “inescapable”.
All dogs were later placed in a small box in which they would receive the same shock. Dogs from both groups 1 and 2 quickly jumped over a low partition to escape the shock. However, the group 3 dogs simply laid down because they had learned that they could neither control nor end the shocks.
Our culture has become like the dogs of Group 3. We are being shocked over and over and we too, have learned that the shocks are inescapable. School shootings, bombings, acts of terror and suicides no longer shock us. They have become common. Social media and the internet have taken over our children’s lives and “nudes,” and pornography have become not only common, but acceptable and even praised. Nothing is sacred. Sex has become more prevalent than a deep conversation and any sense of modesty has long been vanquished by oversexed bodies splashed across any possible avenue.
However, what we seem to have forgotten is that there is a difference between common and normal. Just because something happens with frequency does not mean that it is normal. Prostitution is common but it is certainly not normal behavior. We have forgotten that humans are created good, in the image of a Creator, and that it is the good that should be considered normative. We, like Group 3 dogs, have laid down in the midst of the pain. We have accepted the shocks as routine and no longer even look for a way out. I must admit that I do not see any readily apparent escape route from that which is “common” in our world. But I certainly refuse to look at any of the aforementioned issues as normal.
This age of tolerance which is good in many ways, has also caused us to turn a blind eye and accept much of what is unacceptable. I realize that there is no way to stop the “shocks,” but we can at least jump over the partition of resignation and try to live a life that seeks to regains true normalcy and right thinking. Although painful, I truly believe that it is better and more fully human to grieve and suffer through the shocks that to become desensitized and lay down in defeat.