Are We Civilized?

In the course of a couple of days we have two dead for being black and 5 dead with many more wounded in Dallas.

We have Isis. We have North Korea. We have had Stalin, Hussein, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Hitler, too many more to mention. We have an entire history based upon war, violence, and mayhem. What are we really? We are supposed to be the smart ones. The tool users. With the brains to figure out how things work, how to improve our lives, how to fix things. Why can’t we fix ourselves?

I have often thought of civilization as a thin veneer. The icing on the cake if you will. That thin outer layer is our so called civil society. The cake underneath is all the rest. All of the bad things we don’t want to talk about or admit we have anything to do with. Our predudjices, our desires, our dislikes, our fears. Dig a little deeper and you will find our hate, bigotry, racism, and other nasties that some of us do work at trying to overcome. Dig deeper still and somewhere in all of that ugliness that is the human condition, and you will find the desire and the will to kill. What? You say you would never do such a thing?

Really?

We all have the capacity and the capability to kill. It is the motive that differs. The situation. The particulars. Prisons are full of people who killed solely because they thought they could get away with it. Think the Hatfields and the Mcoys, revenge and pride are good motives. How about self defense? Would you react in a violent manner to save your own skin, or that of a family member? I would. How about grandma waking up one day and deciding she has had enough of grandpas shit and she whacks him a hammer. It happens. We are human. We react in anger and that anger sometimes kills.

It kills innocent black men, it kills policemen, it kills families, it kills populations.

Now that we have faced up to our true nature, what do we do fix it? Is it even possible to fix an ingrained human condition? I doubt it honestly. If history has shown anything it is our quickness to anger and capacity to kill. We are little better than the animals on the savannah. Indeed that’s where we came from. But despite all of that, we have become civilized to a point. We have huge teeming cities, extensive trade networks, friends and allies all over the globe. We have our neighborhoods, families, and friends. We have people coming together trying to console and/or offer aid those who have lost friends and loved ones, or their homes in times of tragedy. We have so much working for us. But damn it all there are days I think the hoarders with their bunkers just might be the sane ones.

I have hope for humans and civilized society. But I really feel like I am a living part of our history, a continuation of the history behind us. A testament to our true nature that gets swept up under the rug. Underneath the icing.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Are We Civilized?

  1. The data show that per capita violence is on the decline and has been for centuries. So, over time we are getting more civilized one could conclude. We are fascinated by the lurid though, so we share stories ad nauseum that involve violence and hatred and bad behavior. It seems as if the world is going to Hell in a handbasket, but if you take a step back, take a week, I ask you to look at the world around you. Do not look at the “news” or TV coverage that passes for it and see what you can see, what I see is a world that rolls along fairly easily with very little drama.

    There are issues of race, gun violence, and economic justice that need to be addressed in this country and we are not really addressing them, we instead are wringing our hands and renting our cloaks in anguish … but address these problems head on … not doing it right now. Until we do, the news will look pretty much as it does. If the ratings and circulations of these “news organs” were to drop, maybe they would change their tune.

  2. Great post. Not sure what the answers are to these issues. If I find any, I’ll let you know. Hopefully you’ll do the same.

  3. We’re doing OK. Problem is, we have a media that feeds on the violence. That being said, if we don’t solve our population problem, we’re fucked.

    • Yep JZ, the media is like sharks smelling blood in the water.

      We have had answers to the population issue but modern medicine keeps figuring out how to fix it. War is good at population control but no one cares for it. Guess we will have to convince people that sex is overrated. I’ll assign that job to you 🙂

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