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Human nature: does it stand in the way of mankind’s evolution?
The facts that a second Cold War has broken out and that IS has launched an attempt to conquer the world are just a couple of indicators that us humans are living in rather tumultuous times as of right now. Despite all technological and scientific developments, it seems like our evolution has come to a standstill. Could this stagnation of our growth be blamed on our nature?
Actually, one cannot speak of humans and animals. Humans are animals. We set ourselves apart from other animals by means of our superior intelligence. This, and this alone, has enabled our survival on this planet. Let’s face it, if we would have had to rely on our physical capabilities alone, we would have been an extinct species a long time ago. Nevertheless, there has been a time in which mankind’s daily life was about nothing but survival and propagation and just like many other animals, we depended on our hunting skills. In other words, we relied on violence in order to secure our survival.
Lots of animals are territorial by nature. They look for a certain area to live in, mark it in their own way and attack everything and everybody who dares to trespass the home they claimed. When it comes to a battle, both attacker and defender will have to abide by one iron law imposed by Mother Nature: only the strongest will prevail. Therefore, fights to the death are daily business. In the world of these animals, the word ‘peace’ does not exist.
In the course of time, mankind has started to cherish the ambition to bid nature’s violence farewell and live in peace. This development was partially caused by the gradual changes in our living conditions. After all, we are no longer dependable on hunting in order to feed ourselves. To do so nowadays, we visit a supermarket. We have even come to the point that we have a world map with borders which have been recognized internationally, meaning that the territories of the many people known to this world are – in most cases – not open for discussion.
I’d like to highlight the words ‘in most cases’ in the last sentence of the previous paragraph, since it’s definitely not always the case – on the contrary. There are countries claiming territories which have not been acknowledged to be theirs by the international community. Crimea forms a good, recent example. Such cases form triggers for mankind’s ancient, dormant instincts to be suddenly and entirely woken up once again. After all, one side wants to keep its territory, while the other seeks to conquer it. Damn. Perhaps we haven’t come as far as we would like to think. Once again, power and possession, which cannot be separated from each other, have succeeded in tempting us.
Power is possession and possession is power
In all actuality, power is nothing but control over something or somebody. If we apply said control to humanity, then we see that it manifests itself in having money and certain resources necessary to survive at our disposal, as well as the abilities to cultivate a territory and establish a reign of our choosing. In order to not only have power but maintain it as well, you will need the means which enable you to do so first. Therefore, power and possession cannot be separated from each other. Power is possession and possession is power.
In order to prove this statement, I’d like to make use of some simple examples. Everything you buy enables you to exercise ‘power’ over it. If I buy a chair, then I can decide at any given moment whether or not I want to sit in it. However, if its color doesn’t appeal to me, I can also decide to paint it or to set it out for garbage if I deem its quality to be unsatisfactory. And by buying a car, I enable myself to travel from A to B or to equip it with an air freshener.
Perhaps the best example I can give is money. After all, money enables you to buy things. The more you have of it, the more you can buy and so the more ‘power’ you can exercise. If you don’t have a lot of money, your sphere of influence will be limited to your own life. However, should you be someone whose bank account is about to collapse because of the huge numbers, you may decide to found your own business, thus not only influencing your own life, but those of other people as well because you hire them. Should you be one of the very few who is just filthy rich, then you even have the opportunity to influence politics to a degree by using lobbyists.
Applying the above to the world of animals
Every creature on Earth seeks to optimize its own living conditions. This applies to both humans and animals. Animals do so by looking for a suitable place to raise a family and where plenty of food can be found in order to enable their survival. In other words, they claim power over a certain territory in order to collect its resources (food). While doing so, they will defend their new home against any intruder to the death if necessary, just like us humans would do should a hostile army invade our land.
Throughout the centuries, mankind has made a huge leap forward. As such, we can push a few buttons on our phone and moments later we’re able to talk to someone who may be a thousand miles away from us. And should we want to actually visit this person, than we simply get on a plane. If we’re sick, then we go to a doctor, thus getting medicines prescribed which have been developed by our fellow humans. And yet… Yet, that ancient instinct keeps on smoldering in the background, like a predator lurking in the shadows, ready to strike without mercy whenever necessary. We do prefer peace, but we’re always willing to wage war, both in case we realize that a certain group of people forms a threat to us and in situations in which we can improve our living conditions at the cost of someone else.
No, when it comes to those instincts, we’re definitely not ahead of other animals. Granted, there are people who will never rely on them if they can prevent it. Such people only allow them to show if there is absolutely no other way and even in such situations, it’s with a lot of reluctance. Yet, even for them it’s impossible to entirely bid their instincts farewell, since they would completely disarm themselves in doing so, thus becoming an easy prey for aggressors. Let’s face it, power and possession are needed for strictly defensive purposes as well. All considering, humanity is locked up in a vicious circle from which no escape is possible…
“It’s painful having to notice that those who wish to live in peace should not shun war.”
- Victor Brenntice -
© 2015 Victor Brenntice