“To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
– Sun Tzu
Civility is a mere facade, indoctrinated within us from birth. Social conditioning has directed people to civility that we have today, but could we as a species taken a different route? Perhaps, but would it have been “better”? The imagination is a powerful thing and I suspect that a rather successful implementation of imagination – in the ideological push of civility – has many wonderful aspirations to offer. However, it does have its extremes. We can often end up forgetting who or what we are, animals. We, human beings, are classified as animals under Kingdom Animalia, yet many of us have chosen to subjectively distance ourselves from every other animal, by definition even, as provided by Merriam Webster.
[b]: a living thing that is not a human being or plant[/b]
: any living thing that is not a plant
: a person who behaves in a wild, aggressive, or unpleasant way
I like the third sense of the word, a person who behaves in a wild, aggressive, or unpleasant way. When push comes to shove, we may all just go back to being this type of animal. After all, most of us have the innate will to survive, as is common in animals. If aggressiveness is required for us to survive or at least protect our conception of life, our values, our way of life, we do have the capability to lift the shroud of civility that camouflage us, to revert back to our more animal roots.
We react based upon our biological make up and environmental conditioning, just as all animals do. Sure, we have some major advantages over the rest of Kingdom Animalia but are we to distance ourselves so much to consider ourselves so special that we are beyond animals now?
I credit the extreme notions of this ideology of civility to have its roots in various forms of political correctness, cultural constructs, the conceptions of people. It is often that any of us can be disillusioned about anything and I’ve noticed in some various politically correct stances that we can weave a web of twisted logic that pushes the envelope of our perception to a disillusioned frame of reference. The simple categorization that places us as not animals, for instance. It seems this occurred, well, just because “we” can. Perhaps because we were believed to be “made in God’s image”. Because we are an apex predator and our transcendence over the rest of kingdom animalia is prevalent. We have essentially “terraformed” if you will, the very planet that gave birth to us, which has led to our further distancing from our animal roots. We humans have constructed a world that seems unnatural, perhaps it makes us seem unnatural in ourselves. We have constructed laws, conceptions, rules, order, regulation, laws that may seem unnatural. Of course, “we” is being applied here very liberally. A lot of this is of what we are born into is the result of some people, probably a minority, that have shaped the social constructs, influencing humanity through their power, which through charisma, reason, logic, people agree to, submit to, or just apathetically conform to.
Today we see extremes in various forms of political activism; political correctness in all its forms; Everyone should be seen as “equal”, everyone should be able to sexually identify how they wish, certain clothing is required for certain occasions, some of these are practical, some are pipe dreams; superfluous goals that will never be obtained. There is the paradoxical push for racial equality, or even the dissemination of race altogether, which ends up segregating the races in turn and hurts its own cause. Pointing out that “black people” are well black, and white people are white, in order to achieve equality, such as “another white cop killed a black 18 year old man”, seems self defeating in this push. Sure there may be injustices here and yes may be the root cause, but doesn’t that just sharpen the schism with a polarizing effect? Trading some small victory while creating a larger war in the end.
Censorship, for example, while having it has its practicality and legitimate uses, can be troublesome. There is a fine line that we must not damage, our freedom to express ourselves. These all seems methods of control to subvert the natural ways some people are of course. To deny some aspects our “savagery” on these levels can lead to systematic corruption of power, authority, resulting in a slippery slope of self defeat.
Authority will always need a reminder that the unjust facade of civility ought to be transparent to the people and governmental savagery should be apparent to those that must obey their will, regardless of the efforts of propaganda. We should not necessarily expect more from the epitome of human civility; systems, governments, corporations, cultures. Understand that these systems, these constructs that we have created ourselves, operate with savagery and animalistic tendencies. Without doing so, we may only set us up for failure. When we lose track of what we are and who we are, we fool only ourselves. We should be vigilant in our ideologies to understand what we can do and maybe more importantly, what we cannot do. We cannot get ahead of ourselves, we cannot get ahead of our animal selves. This somewhat ties in with going with what we know, and more importantly knowing at times that we do not know. But if we are disillusioned as civilized human beings, are we in this world, the structures of authority really operating as civilized human beings, or are we really operating as the apex predator, or animal that we are? Remember, when push comes to shove, civility will crumble. Can we push the authorities to crumble? Of course, we can. Expose the inner animal, the animal drives, that might be masked with logic and reason, but underneath it all, might be something else.
To be prepared let us embrace our inner savage, or our inner animal. See it in ourselves as to forget our inner savage is to forget what we are, so we can see it in others, as to not forget who “they” are. Society is yet to work out its kinks and may never; We are very flawed humans. Civility certainly has its place and is particularly useful in how we treat others, so of course, lets not go overboard and start eating each other.
Now if you have made it this far, perhaps I can welcome you to some aspects of the human condition that portray just what kind of animal we humans are. The capability to produce abstract thoughts that result in the notion of civility, that we all play along, or abide with. (At least most of us). The human condition though is one in which has very animalistic tendencies, which if believe we are civilized human beings made in God’s image, perhaps we will forget the capability of humans. We are for the most part, bottomless pits. Black holes that will always want more. When we have more, we’ll want something else. It’s in our nature, which is not within our control. Our biological make up has caused us to be able to want, to live, to think. Other animals have other drives, dependent upon their biological make up. Some people become killers, they lie, they have all sorts of issues that civility pushes below the depths of our perception, hiding and lurking withe facade of civility to camouflage them. There are murderers, rapists, thieves, walking out there among us, who look just as civilized as everyone else. Civility, perhaps rules, order, laws and governmental authority has masked their savagery. They all play the game, just like everyone else. But in each and every one of us, lurks something else.
Is being an animal always bad? Of course not. Many non human animals are probably capable of loving or caring just as we are. Just don’t let the facade of civility fool you into thinking everything is just fine and dandy with these human beings that walk the earth. So embrace your inner savage, for it will give you insight into the rest of society. Knowing this within may help you know others. Your primal drives, fears, desires. These don’t necessarily come from our environment, it may primarily come from our genetic make up, which remember, is a genetic make up that is the most dominant species of life on this planet that has conquered the food chain and for many if not most, the most desirable conquest is of those of the same species.
To recognize this in yourself and or others, I would take the advice of Sun Tzu here again:
“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” – Sun Tzu