As those of you who follow my blog know, I prefer to be holistic in my approach to just about everything, not least of all the mind-body connection combining the wisdom of the East with that of the West.
Having said that, I should also add that I have deep respect for the work and writings of Deepak Chopra. The voluminous number of books (more than 50) that he has penned as well as the various centers and projects that bear his name all speak for themselves; but, on a more personal note, I had the extreme pleasure of being Chopra’s guest in the late 1980’s at his center (which no longer exists, much to my regret) in Massachusetts. It was a time when he had read a chapter I had written in the N.L.P. casebook, LEAVES BEFORE THE WIND, and,I wrote specifically about the hands-on healing I was doing, using the Neurolinguistic Programming model.
Staying at his center for a long weekend (in a beautiful guest room that he made available to me and to my husband) was a life-altering experience. From the incredibly planted gardens that surrounded us to the Ayurvedic whole body massages which I received daily, I felt totally at peace. Also, the dinners served to the patients who came for healings (as well as to us, his guests) were all simple and healthy meals. Beautiful wild flowers on the table and the imposed quiet during meal-times helped everyone’s food to be properly digested. All in all, I felt truly gifted. I have taken that memory with me as one takes a still photo that never ages in the mind. So, yes, I have a bias in favor of the man and his philosophy.
Therefore, when I happened to turn on the television last week after a long day’s work and saw Chopra on the Larry King show along with Alex King (no relation to the TV host), I watched the entire program and was fascinated with the premise presented about the developing brain. I’d like to share it here, in turn, with those of you who may have missed it or who may not be familiar with the case.
Alex & Derek King are two brothers who were convicted of murdering their father, when they were children. Now, almost nine years later, Alex King appeared on the program with an update about life after prison, moving on, and his attempt to help other young people stop violence.
Alex is being helped to attend college in Florida, and he is helping Dr. Chopra reach young people throughout the world with Chopra's "I Take The Vow" campaign to eliminate violence from their thoughts, speech and actions.
Part of Chopra's mission is to help facilitate their transition from prison to lives of freedom and self-responsibility. They, in turn, are doing so through service to other young people with histories and situations similar to their own.
While there are many people, no doubt, who believe that these boys - and all children found guilty of murder - should never be given a second chance, I suggest that from all that we are learning from the research done on the developing brain, we follow Chopra's lead and likewise advocate for re-training the brain.
Along with Alex, Dr. Chopra is aiming to achieve a critical mass of 100 million people worldwide who will take a vow of nonviolence, and thereby, they believe, they will change the course of history.
Derek, too, is creating an adventure company in the mountains of Texas to provide camping and hiking gear and, in collaboration with other regional businesses, other adventure products and services. His company, WANDERVOGEL.com, is based on helping visitors to Big Bend—especially young people—experience freedom, self-responsibility & adventure.
How wonderful it would be if we as a society could understand that the developing brain of a child is just that - developing. It is not fully formed. And the studies, to date, prove that more than 90% of those children accused of horrific crimes have themselves been victims of violence and abuse which, in turn, has led them to mimic exactly how they had been treated or worse.
In an ideal world, of course, we would be able to protect all children from situations of extreme adversity/abuse and thereby prevent a myriad of heinous crimes. But, until such a time, we must follow carefully the lives of boys such as the King brothers and see if, in fact, it was not – as some would like to believe – that they were “bad” boys born with “bad” genes and not the opposite - that their environment caused the wiring in their brains to become twisted and forced them to perpetuate the evil that had become their norm.
Of course, I can’t know – nor do I suppose Chopra knows, for sure – what happened to the boys prior to the time when they admittedly murdered their father. Yet, it is worth noting the good they are attempting to accomplish as Chopra gives their lives meaning, dignity and honor and others are taking them under their wings unconditionally. With the opportunity to fulfill what indeed may be promising potentials, we will learn much from the choices they make and from how they live the remainder of their lives.
I, for one, am rooting for them. I totally support all those who are continuing to study the developing brain, attempting all the while to find out how we can best affect that development so that no child ever has to feel that his or her only option is to murder an oppressor, be it a parent or anyone else.
This must give us all pause for thought, if we are ever to have a society where sanity and safety prevail, especially for our children!
Do share your thoughts with me, even if you disagree.