Crossposted from Axis of Logic
If not inhibited by a wise and loving upbringing, human beings certainly turn out to be the cruelest of animals. Other animals kill for food and possibly to save their own lives or the life of a loved one. Humans kill and torture from a cruel sense of power or for the ultimate fulfillment of their greed.
All human beings seem to have a deeply ensconced need to feel and express their superiority over other humans. In other cases, they take their viciousness out on animals who are in most cases helpless to defend themselves.
It requires a high degree of civilized indoctrination to get people to feel horror in the face of brutal behavior. Most of us may be that civilized, but it seems more and more obvious that mankind is by nature a power-hungry, destructive and greedy species. Of course we don't like to admit such horror and most of us will fight hard to suppress the realization of this fact. We convince ourselves that our anger is justified, that the people we hate and fear are deserving of our hostility. There is actually no limit to how far we can go to make ourselves feel self-righteous in our negative emotions and to cover up for our uncalled-for aggression. It should be added that a weak and emotionally unstable individual is more likely to commit cruel actions, to be aggressive, in order to cover up for his weakness and insecurity.
Man has always been set on dominating man. Ruling human specimens have regularly used the torture of other, 'inferior' beings either to callously enjoy the spectacle or to mistakenly reason that there will be some positive outcome from this cruelty. Consider the Roman gladiator games staged to entertain the masses in the huge Roman arenas all over their vast empire, or the spectacle of cutting off prisoners' heads that attracted masses of enthusiastic onlookers during the French revolution and in some other countries even today. Consider the more-than-willing participation in the unspeakably horrid treatment and gassing of humans who were considered inferior by edict from the ruling monsters, or the ongoing killing of prisoners in several states in the U.S. and many other countries in the world, the savage killing of Tutsis by the Hutus in east Africa – and the list goes on – all these and uncountable other horrible acts of show, revenge or political expedience seem to convey ample evidence that man is innately a being without a conscience or a sense of compassion for suffering fellow men.
The violence served out to us via television and computer games adds to the numbing of the feelings of horror when confronted with cruel images and actions. Games and reality are getting more and more mixed up and the one shapes the other so as to thoroughly confuse the human mind, when left defenseless to the workings of the propaganda and entertainment industry.
For reasons of practical convenience, most parents realize that cruel behavior does not lead to a socially acceptable communal life. So they try to bring out the feeling of compassion and inhibit the cruel instincts of their children to such an extent that many of us have been led to believe that man is inherently a benevolent creature. For most of us, this kind of positive brainwashing has produced good results and we do behave with compassion and friendliness towards our fellow human beings under most circumstances. It seems to be in our own interest to be able to get along well with our neighbors, as has been pointed out by all the major religions and by most of the great philosophers.
But look at where we are today. Give a person some strength and he will want more. Give him some power and he will want more. Give him some wealth and he will want more.
Also, behold the different scene when the neighbors happen to be of a different skin color, a different faith, or to have a different language and customs. Or one nation can develop the false impression that it is superior to all other nations, that its citizens count for more than those of any other country. And if circumstances are set so as to make it possible, they will draw the conclusion that they have an inherent right to control any other country that can add to the greatness of their own superpower status. This can of course lead up to a situation where the world is controlled by 'disaster capitalism', which is what we are seeing today, where the Big Corporations are in collusion with the governments in order to strangle democracy and rule the world by blind opportunism. The all too widespread human need to feel superior to others of their own species has led to so much atrocity in the world that nothing should surprise us any more.