If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
Evil is a by-product, a component, of creation. In a world evolving into ever-higher forms, hatred, violence, aggression, and war are a part of the evolutionary plan. But where do they fit? Why do they exist? What possible positive purpose could they serve?
The nature scientists uncover has crafted our viler impulses into us: in fact, these impulses are a part of the process she uses to create. Lucifer is the dark side of cosmic fecundity, the cutting blade of the sculptor’s knife. Nature does not abhor evil; she embraces it. She uses it to build. With it, she moves the human world to greater heights of organization, intricacy, and power.
From our best qualities come our worst. From our urge to pull together comes our tendency to tear each other apart. From our devotion to a higher good comes our propensity to the foulest atrocities. From our commitment to ideals comes our excuse to hate. Since the beginning of history, we have been blinded by evil’s ability to don a selfless disguise. We have failed to see that our finest qualities often lead us to the actions we most abhor—murder, torture, genocide, and war.
For millennia, men and women have looked at the ruins of their lost homes and at the precious dead whom they will never see alive again, then have asked that spears be turned to pruning hooks and that mankind be granted the gift of peace; but prayers are not enough. To dismantle the curse that Mother Nature has built into us, we need a new way of looking at man, a new way of reshaping our destiny. The study of complex adaptive systems, among others—to suggest a new way of looking at culture, civilization, and the mysterious emotions of those who live inside the social beast.
We must build a picture of the human soul that works. Not a romantic vision that Nature will take us in her arms and save us from ourselves, but a recognition that the enemy is within us and that Nature has placed it there. We need to stare directly into Nature’s bloody face and realize that she has saddled us with evil for a reason. And we must understand that reason to outwit her.
==The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History (Howard Bloom)
It is just human nature, from which there is no escaping.
I am not a moral or ethical relativist, nor am I a social, economic or political system relativist. Though I am educated in concepts of quantum uncertainty, duality and the reality/consciousness enigma, I believe in truth and a Manichean division between right and wrong, evil and goodness. Human nature at the individual level is prone to selfishness, avarice, hubris, lying, cheating and other aggressive behaviors, socially frowned upon but that are rewarded all the same not only temporally but in the evolution of the species.
The big egos, the unrestrained libidinous appetites, the self-delusional ubermen rise to leadership positions in every aspect of life’s collective endeavor. These are our leaders in business and politics today, but they have always been so. The difference today is that we have allowed the restraints of law, religion and culturally accepted ethics, put in place to check these somewhat amoral, competitive men and women, to whither away under an absurd, self-destructive leftist, liberal fantasy of self-delusion. Human nature untamed is ultimately self-destructive. We have survived as a species because of these altruistic, civic minded human traits that require the moral and ethical governance of religion, tradition and unifying myths. In modern times, they also require the rule of law.
I am reminded of the old story of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion asks a frog to ferry it across a stream. The frog at first refuses, saying that it fears the scorpion will sting it. The scorpion assures the frog it will do no such thing. After all, it says, we will both perish if I sting you. The frog consents, and halfway across the stream the scorpion stings it. “Why did you do that?”, the frog asks as they both sink beneath the surface. “It is my nature”, the scorpion explains.
Thus it is, thus it will always be.
It is astounding how much our world can mirror futuristic fiction, particularly that of a dystopian nature. When opining on the future, the authors of this fiction were clairvoyant, or more likely, just uniquely capable of extrapolating perceived subtle evolutionary trends in society and culture and taking them to their logical natural conclusions. This is not, however, an easy task. The restraints of the concurrent era’s socioeconomic and cultural thought usually entice all but the most immunized to the allure of the ruling elite’s propaganda. To capture the essential surviving memes and cultural adaptations before they are fully recognized as the future’s normative standards, and not view them as incongruous deviances from the then perceived state of the human social and political condition, is only achieved by the most fertile and courageous minds.
America and a large part of the world we have attempted to lead by either force of arms or cultural and economic assimilation are now an intricately woven fabric of Orwell, Huxley and Burgess with a bit of Conrad and Heller thrown into the pot for added social flavoring. Paine, Jefferson, Madison and Locke, Montesquieu, Plutarch and Polybius to name a few are discarded as the detritus of a white, European Judeo-Christian heritage whose “universal” laws are but anachronistic dinosaurs with bones left to bleach in the sun of moral, ethical and socioeconomic relativism.
Where this dead-end evolutionary path has led is to an America unrestrained by necessary rules, laws and social mores, not just of the Judeo-Christian heritage, but also of the rationalist’s understanding of human nature and its innate imperfections. All of our core human traits, in any geography and in any cultural environment, have indisputable similarities, if not exact phylogenetic imprints. To have survived the Darwinian competition over millions of years these traits, even the most obscure recurring cognitive patterns, did so for a reason. That reason is very simple-they enhanced survival of the species.
For the agnostics among us, original sin is a concept that does not compute, but evolutionarily reinforced tendencies deemed sinful are evidenced throughout the history of man. They have always existed in some form from the very birth of the first stirrings of man’s conscious thought. Humankind has evolved in an uneasy co-existence with seemingly contradictory universal behaviors. But for the force of religious, cultural, and social taboos and the enforcement of socially acceptable rules of conduct and normative behavior, the long process towards increasing complexity in human social organization would have long ago been foreshortened.
Depravity and virtuousness, kindness and savagery, egotistic selfishness and selfless altruism, avarice and generosity, honesty and deceitfulness, self-deception and self-delusion; (of which there are no qualified antonyms, so we shall simply say non-delusional, objective self-awareness); all have competed with each other within every man, women and child throughout the history of homo sapiens and its various humanoid predecessors. They exist, have existed and will continue to exist inside all of us and collectively so within our social and political mechanisms.
Though we tend to wrap around these innate, incompatible behaviors the relative value judgments of our own particular age, evolution has already passed judgment. Millions of years of internal and social competitive development have given a pronounced thumbs up on them all. Each human trait and propensity, apparently incongruous; and almost Manichean in nature, with little grey area between them, is in fact necessary for the success of the human species. If it were not so, the less effective, more burdensome and less competitively important behaviors would have been winnowed out of humankind’s gene pool long ago.