I. The Law of Families in WV – Some Very Preliminary Thoughts


Some Preliminary Thoughts on Human, Religious, and Political Conflict,

and the

Application of Those Thoughts to Familial Conflict and Family Laws in WV.

I have had time to savor the fact that I got to play a part in the protection of women, children, men, and families of WV with the final passage, and signature by the Governor, of former Senate Bill 430. I call it the “Family Court No Unwanted Contact Restraining Order Act”. I refer you to my last post on how that bill became law.

“Protect” can mean many things. It can mean that abusive behavior that falls below the “domestic violence standard” can be prevented before it becomes domestic violence.

It can mean that a person “on the edge” of physical or emotional collapse will not collapse because of incessant calls, e-mails, text, or contact.

It can mean that a person can gain enough “space” to begin to gather her/his thoughts and move forward with their lives.

It may mean that children of conflicted parties will hear less criticism and invective hurled against a parent that they love.

Or perhaps a child won’t “learn” the wrong, disrespectful, way to treat a partner, and will treat their own adult partners better.

Why, if better behavior became “the norm”, there might even be more reconciliations and greater integrity within families.

And, peace among families may actually influence other elements of our culture.

I have been reading a lot of history, lately and for many years. But now,  my history and science reading has moved to 70%, with politics and fiction perhaps 30%. Perhaps near the end of my life it will be only “serious stuff” or just “the funny pages”. Our tastes and interests change over time.

I am reading two excellent, related, books concurrently. They are, “Fields of Blood – Religion and the History of Violence” by Karen Armstrong, and “A Troublesome Inheritance – Genes, Race, and Human History”, by Nicholas Wade.

The authors agree on one thing. Mankind “evolved”. It is a scientific certainty that life on earth has been evolving for 3.8 billion years. That is an inconceivable span.

Just the “blink of an eye” ago, 1627, the Calvinist Bishop James Ussher was calculating the beginning of the world, and therefore, I assume, Mankind, at 6:00 p.m. October 22, 4004 B.C.


Our learning from then to now is vast, but we modern and civilized people are still “babies” on the evolutionary scale.

I got a kick out of an recent article on the Internet referring to “cave men 80 million years ago”. That’s a few years off. My recollection is that hominids made it to an upright stance 6-8 million years ago, when the great apes divided into 3-4 branches, and “we” came out of Africa perhaps 250,000 years ago, as Home Erectus,  carrying his primary tool, the hand axe. That was our tool of choice for 700,000 years!

But, let’s get to the point. Cave art and small clay and bone and stone figures have been found 35,000- 45,000 years old. That’s around the time that Cro-Magnon Man out-competed the Neanderthals, who are now relegated to books, movies, and GEICO ads. They are the traditional “cave men”.

We, Homo Erectus, Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Sapiens, were nomads for virtually all of human history, owning little property, with family and clan sized groups, and no dictators or kings, or organized religion. The supernatural lived everywhere, and there were myriad gods and spirits. And wealth, for the able-bodied, was relatively equal.

Apparently the search for “answers” to our human existence, condition, and future, is universal, and the tendency of mankind to “invent” stories, myths, and gods, too.

Perhaps 10,000 years ago, some of us transitioned from nomad life to farming. Farming led to surpluses and to people staying in one place. That led to classes, to peasants, priests, entrepreneurs, and to kings. That led to small groups controlling large groups of people who were confined to drudgery and poverty so the elite could have wealth and power.

The concentration of wealth provided resources, and manpower, to build statues, shrines, tombs, churches, and art! Think of the Egyptians and their 3000+ year civilization. An argument can be made that such development was essential to mankind’s development. How else could we have a Michelangelo, or Picasso, or a Newton, Galileo, or Einstein? But it meant a pretty miserable existence for the masses.

What does that have to do with family court and modernity? Apparently, warfare and violence, and domination of men over women, were the standard for our first 6,000,000 years or so, and once that “civilization” began, so did serious warfare, well-armed armies, and mass death and destruction.

The accumulation of wealth meant the leaders could create and arm armies. The Egyptians, according to Prof. Bob Briar, of The Learning Company’s course in Egyptian History and the University of Long Island, prepared year after year, and sallied forth to conquer, pillage, and bring slaves back to Egypt. The younger and more warlike the Pharaoh was, the greater Egypt became. Eighty year old Pharos led to stagnation and to disintegration at home.

So, also, according to Karen Armstrong, did the “Aryans” who moved into northwestern India and headed south. Winter was a time of peace, but only so as to gird for war.

They would go out in the spring, also year after year, to conquer and pillage their neighbors. They considered it part of the natural order, and they treated it almost as a religious ritual.

Since political power led to wealth, the priestly class and the warrior class, collaborated in this bloody system. There were instances of multiple generations of kings in India giving up power by being assassinated by their sons. Violence and deception and ruthlessness were at a premium.

Then, perhaps 3000 years ago (an eye blink in the history of mankind), some strange things began to happen. As people “evolved” to learn to collaborate and cooperate, a very few, called Jains and Buddhists in India, and Christians in the Middle east, and Confucians in China, and Stoics in Rome and Greece, began to promote peace, order, respect, empathy, and non-violence.

Even today, “turn the other cheek” is a very difficult standard to adhere to. The Jains were taught to kill nothing, and even to walk so as not to step on an insect or destroy a blade of grass. Buddhist monks lives solely for prayer, contemplation, dharma, salvation, karma, and a life without greed or want. (I am summarizing a bit as I cover all of human history in a couple of pages!)

Stoics such as Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius counseled patience, moderation of mood, contemplation, study, and acceptance.

In his book, Nicholas Wade relies on many sources to make the case for an actual physiological evolution of groups and culture. Having read “The Beak of the Finch”, A Story of Evolution in Our Time, by Jonathan Weiner, which discusses the remarkably fast evolution of Galapagos Island Finches, I am inclined to accept the idea of significant human and cultural evolution in the last 40,000 years.

Even the changes in the WV White Tailed Deer population support the idea of rapid evolution, as our law requires the killing of the largest and the fittest males. Therefore, evolution is a constant.

Wade points out that generations average 25 years. So, 500 years equals 20 generations and 10,000 years equal 400 generations. He thinks this is enough to explain why violence has diminished and wealth increased in the civilizations that have “evolved” past “tribalism”.

He takes some shots at another of my favorite authors, Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Third Chimpanzee, and Collapse) who seems to be fearful of admitting that genetics influences culture.

I enjoy absorbing these ideas of learned people and forming my own opinions. Wade raises valid and difficult questions as to why certain groups, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans, significantly (by a tiny percentage as individuals, but by a wide margin as groups) outperform other groups such as blacks, south Asians, and Aborigines. Again, I grossly summarize.

Whether it is culture, genetics, geography, or a combination, we clearly are at a stage of great flux, where our technology is “evolving” us faster than our bodies and culture can adapt. The “tribal” cultures are angry, frustrated, violent and dangerous.

Political groups in the US, on the left and right, resort to a “tribal” response to the violence and terrorism. In fact, they seem to be a regression to tribalism that is contrary to the insights our founding fathers had in creating our political system of “checks and balances”.

So, how does that connect us to the subject I sat down to write about, ideas for the application, renovation, and reformation of the law for the families of WV? I think I shall get to that in my next post. 🙂

This post was written by Burton Hunter


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