You are the Problem, Part II
Last week J. Huntington Smedley painted a grim picture that pointed to not only the continuance of horror and slaughter that has besieged mankind from Day One, but that the increasing intensity of these episodes foretells that the end of humanity is not too far away. Smedley made the case that the cause for this devastation – past, present, and future – can be traced to the innate nature that has been – and is – implanted in every human being. Simply put, all people are by nature dominated by selfishness.
Selfishness in action takes on many forms: it has the heart of a rebel, not wanting to live under any authority other than his own; it strives to be in control, to be the master and never the servant; it is ego driven; it lusts after pleasure, possessions, and adoration. It seeks its own well-being even at the cost to others. This nature – that all humans are wired for conflict – is the answer to Rodney King’s question, “Why can’t we all just get a long?
This built-in obsession of self-serving and all the ensuing conflict generated by it – has been the human story from the very the beginning. Its presence is highlighted by another innate attribute that we call the conscience, that nagging inner voice that accuses of wrongdoing. While the conscience acts to counterbalance the destructive acts and thoughts arising from selfishness, it, unfortunately, loses most of the battles. Proof of this deficit is seen by the conflict at all levels – be it family, neighborhood, community, state, and nation – that is the everyday experience of mankind. Divorce, fights, quarrels, violence, abuse, riots, robberies, murders, etc. are all commonplace everyday wherever humans exist.
But how does the inbred flaw of selfishness of an individual get magnified to cause him to become a significant part of a tribal killing machine? How do you explain the German citizens acquiescence in Hitler’s Nazi Germany’s eradication of six million Jews in the 30’s and 40’s? How do you explain Stalin’s Communist State slaughtering thirty million of its own people? Tell me why Mao and his Red Army put to death 40 million of his own people? What about the slaughter being perpetrated today by Islamic Jihadists? Did – or do – these monsters act alone or did – or do – they have the support of their countrymen, their political party members, or their religious brothers?
J. Huntington Smedley concludes that when a corrupt belief gains a critical following and its precepts are then blended with the defective nature of the individual, it will produce the results mentioned above. For instance, Hitler’s “Third Reich” insisted that the Germans were a superior race and by purifying their society by eliminating inferior people, they would usher in a glorious reign on earth. Likewise, the Japanese under Emperor Hirohito, believing that their race was also superior entitled them to subdue and conquer their corner of the world. Today’s Jihadists also hold to a belief that they honor Allah by liquidating non-believers and infidels who are deemed unworthy and degenerate. The innate selfishness, the egoism of the individual is fed gloriously by the idea that their people, their race, their religious brothers, are better than all others and thus these miserable others deserve to be subjugated or eliminated.
Another key to explaining how the individual can be so swept up into mass violence is the inner call for revenge, a very basic part of the selfishness he is born with. The need to pay back an offender – real or imagined or purposely manufactured – is often the springboard for violence rising to unthinkable levels.
Other paths to corporate violence are paved with the broken bricks of humanity’s innate nature of selfishness. You have what I want – I’m going to take it. You disrespect me – I will disrespect you. You hate me – I hate you. Not a pretty picture.
Yes, you, it turns out, with your flawed nature – are the problem. But you can be the solution if…..
Next week: Smedley lowers the boom!