"The only thing for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"
----- Edmund Burke
The State of That Which Is
Such is the state of human affairs, whether in the present age or in those that came before, that not a decade passes without humanity resurrecting, in some corner of the globe, in some forsaken nation, the devastation unleashed by human wickedness. Whether mass murder, genocide, ethnic cleansing, endemic rape, pillage, scorched earth and yes, even Holocaust, human wickedness prevails upon the human condition, leaving us impotent beasts in its wake, unable to control or suppress its malevolent tentacles, seemingly powerless to alter or halt its predictable and disastrous momentum.
The barbarity to which we are predisposed, to which we are unable to exorcise from our nature, is as common to so-called primitive peoples, those humanity likes to call "third worlders," as it is to those societies considering themselves modern and developed. There is no difference between suicide bombers and guided missiles raining down from the sky. Technology does not behold humanity to label the terrorism falling from the sky as nobler, or as more moral, than that of terrorism bred through poverty. Possessing vast wealth and resources does not diminish murder and criminality, nor the birth of, and continuation in, a new Holocaust.
The crimes against humanity that are thrust upon the world with a consistency that betrays our anemic ability to control our mammalian nature do not discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity or religion. We are free to unleash wickedness, whether our powers derive from the machete or the smart-bomb, the suicide bomber or the guided missile, the knife or the machine gun, from tribal conflagrations or nation to nation war. The consistency by which human wickedness is thrust upon our conscious cannot be denied, nor can it be ignored.
Such is the state of human affairs, and so little progress have we made in dominating our primitive mammalian behaviors, that even in the supposed modern world of today, even in the supposed enlightened nations of the West, the harbingers of mass destruction and suffering are spawned, planned and executed. For those bastions of morality and exceptionalism we call the First World have realized that war is as old as humankind itself, and as profitable as well, for the violence that creates war is ingrained into our instincts, embedded into the most violent species the planet has ever evolved.
War and its multitude of deviations, along with its many devastating aftereffects, has never been controlled or sequestered; its extinction has never been a possibility granted the predisposition to our impotency of willpower. This reality the lords of war understand well. As long as internal strife exists inside a nation, as long as racial, ethnic and religious hatreds are fomented and maintained, and as long as tribes or peoples or sects or beliefs are allowed to mature into full blown animosity and anger there will be war.
As long as there exists individuals addicted to power and wealth, as long as governments and special interests vie for control of territory and land, as long as natural resources have immense value and as long as money is valued higher than people there will be war. As long as there is uneducation, intolerance, oppression, poverty, injustice, inequality and exploitation there will be war. As long as there is profit to be derived, money and power to be made, division to be birthed, resources to be stolen, there will be war.
As long as there is war, that is to say death, destruction, suffering and misery, there will also always be crimes against humanity, for war is the virus that unearths human wickedness and unleashes crimes against humanity upon each other. Indeed, if our history books and our anthropological and archeological studies teach us anything, if they convey any warnings that we must heed, it is that humankind has possessed a propensity to destroy one another from the time our first ancestors hung on trees.
This propensity, this inclination towards violence against members different than our own group or tribe, is apparent by observing our closest animal relatives, chimpanzees, with whom we happen to share 98 percent of our genetic code with, as they wage violent war-like battles between groups. It is apparent with every war modern man gives birth to and nurtures through our indifference and silent acquiescence. It is apparent with every act of genocide, ethnic cleansing, torture, mass murder, rape and extermination, in all corners of the globe, regardless of time and space. From primate cousins to modern man, violence is a reality, and a curse.
For if this malevolence that possesses us were not ingrained in our core, in our behaviors and psychologies, if it were not part of our human condition, would it keep surfacing over and over again, irrespective of time, distance, space and peoples? If our propensity to unleash carnage and violence upon each other were not part of who and what we really are, would such a thing as human wickedness and destruction and violence even exist? Would war and violence and devastation upon our fellow human beings? In fact, they exist because they possess us like a miscreant demon, living within our nature, controlling our destiny and our lives, unwilling to escape or be exorcised from our condition, creating the most violent species to ever roam Earth. War and genocide and Holocaust exist for the simple fact that we exist, because war without humans is no war at all, because violence of man against man cannot exist if there is no man, because humans are impotent to rid ourselves of that demon called human wickedness.
Indeed, our species has been defined through war and its inevitable crimes against humanity. Lingering in our midst for hundreds of thousands of years, endemic to all civilizations, tribes and peoples, the human wickedness we seemingly resuscitate with every new generation is a symptom of our disease, the very sickness maintaining us from advancing forward as a species. Just when we believe ourselves enlightened or reborn, just as we think we have exorcised the demons within, just as we think a new generation of humans has defeated that which enslaves us to our passions, released again and reborn forever is the violence and the destruction and the suffering and the mass murder and the catastrophe that is war.
Repeating the pattern that has held us hostage from time immemorial, we believe ourselves enlightened enough to think that violence and war and crimes against humanity will settle our differences, instead of increasing our animosity and hatreds. We have evolved war, yet war has not evolved us. There is but one common denominator in the perpetual stream of violence, war and crimes against humanity we have seen repeated over and over throughout history – whether it be written or long forgotten – and that is us, human beings, Homo sapiens. For we remain prisoners of our own delusions, slaves of our self-proclaimed exceptionalism, blinded to the true nature of our existence by the comfortable glow of our most primitive myths.
As long as we maintain our delusions, our purposeful ignorance, our disastrous belief in fictions and fables, the reality of man killing man will endure, long into perpetuity, possessing our nature and our condition, concocting war after war, molding violence and destruction through the deadly mixture of our instincts, behaviors and mammalian predispositions. Until we finally decide to purge the grip of our self-deception, of thinking ourselves beyond the realm of our reality and truth, of who and what we really are, and not what we pretend to be, humankind will linger on in the limbo of self-destruction, living a fantasy that does not comport with our reality, granting ourselves small windows of temporary sanity, inevitably blown to bits by the destructive qualities we chose to ignore and not confront.
The predictable unleashing of our worst inner demons invariably destroys all that is achieved during the small frames of sanity we exhibit. For every step we take forward in our evolution, the demons called human wickedness takes us ten steps back. This demon has prevented us from progressing to the full capabilities of human thought and understanding. In the near future, given our level of technology and modernity, it might very well be the catalyst that sends us back to the Stone Age or indeed, buries us permanently under the rubble of our once-great civilization. If the pattern continues, so will the trend, and in time, so will our self destruction, for as John F. Kennedy once said, "If we do not put an end to war, war will put an end to us."
Only time and our willingness to alter inevitability stand in the way of where we are headed. Only humankind can put a stop to human wickedness. Only we can destroy that which is slowly, but surely, destroying us all.