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Enlightened self-interest is wisdom. Everything has a cost and you will have to pay in one way or another. If you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, I feel it’s better to do what you will and accept the consequences.

Infant Values in Gratitude


To tie this back to intrinsic worth, what is the very first thing an infant values?

Food? Affection?

Touch. Milk. Physical security.

Nothing abstract like that. That’s adult thinking. They value the experience of mother. They can’t identify anything from a utilitarian sense. They don’t know the purpose of a single thing and can see very little of it. They are comforted by the presence of mother. Presence within their personal space. If mother is outside of the personal space she might as well not be present. Mothers voice only goes so far to start.

Given a little time, the infant begins to see more clearly and becomes familiar with more people than just their mother. This isn’t linear, but their awareness does start specific and then grow to be more general. But still early on, an infant clutches a toy just because they can. To start, they don’t even know what the toy is, let alone have any idea of purpose behind the toy.

As they transition from infancy to early toddler, they still haven’t acquired a sense of utility. They are just getting oriented on the presences around them. They may have discovered they have siblings as well as parents, or maybe that they have house pets. At this age do they care for utility at all? They do value their relationships. They identify loved ones and care givers, even pets, and reach for them, seek contact and interaction. When do we learn about purpose? We feel value very early on. When do we start caring about application?

Pre-school? Yes. When we become immersed in formalized behaviour, also known as being “socialized.”

Probably has something to do with a sense of “self.” No. They have found that very young infants do have a sense of self, and even a sense of proper relationship.

I expect it’s when we start to lose sense of self? Yes. We start becoming labels instead. Very young children do display possessiveness, but they do not relate to it in the socialized way.

Only much later do labels become “titles”, PhD, etc. Indeed. The infant, as they discover the range of complexity in activity in their environment, starts claiming resources, but not with the idea of exclusivity. They don’t understand exclusive ownership until much later, but they claim things as a sort of touch stone, a standing place in the vast web of things that come and go.

I always thought it was funny that we tell a child he has to share his toy, but you would never tell an adult he has to share his Porsche. Indeed, and it’s an insane double standard. The funny thing, though, is that very young children discover sharing without even being taught it. I have no trouble getting things from a very young child especially if they are calm. If they are not calm, they still tend to voluntarily trade, but does that young child know if they got a fair trade from me or not?

The whole concept of “fair trade” is an adult thing probably. Yes, adult head games.

What makes the child accept a trade is their sense of the intrinsic worth of what is being offered. They know that they want it even if they don’t have some trumped up sense of why, and they don’t have a sense of loss. They don’t understand that they will be denied something they temporarily surrender.

I heard a story about a man sitting in a park eating chips. A crow landed next to him and wanted a chip, but the man wouldn’t give him one so the crow flew off and came back with a rock and placed it next to the man. The man was amused so he gave the crow a chip. Pretty soon there was a pile of rocks next to the man and he was out of chips. Excellent story. Fair trade as far as the crow understood. All they knew is they were hungry and smelled food, attractive food.

And a rock is probably useful to a crow so they assign value to it. Oh indeed, rocks are, so are twigs.

One rock = one chip ! Value! Indeed, but one rock = colourful and complex toy as well. Small rocks = healthy craw.

I bet that crow told the other crows, “Rocks! Humans love rocks!” It has been proven that they share information.

When I walked 186 miles of the C&O Canal Towpath a crow followed me almost the entire time, even overnight. We traded things every day. You were an interesting presence, and maybe an interesting trade partner.

Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.

Travis Saunders
Dragon Intuitive

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