Have we forgotten our true nature?
– How the good was turned to the bad and ugly, in the misunderstood battle of survival.
Daily we tease, bully and annoy each other to despair and even to death. We compete fiercely to become the best in most areas, often with pushy and pointy elbows. We also gorge on food and beverages, technical equipment and consumables, while wasting with nature, and expand ourselves in all corners of the world, both on our business trips and holidays.
In the west, some of us have more cars, houses, condominiums, cell phones and tablets, than compassion for others. We have goods and gold up to the neck, still wanting even more. Yes, some of us have almost everything, while the feeling of lacking, only continue to rise, as do the earth’s oceans.
When it comes to hatred and violence, we kill and molest one another on a large scale. Only the task on the calculator, to count all these killed and dead bodies in conflict areas around the world, was an eerie experience for me. According to the display of the calculator, conflicts between us have actually killed approximately 90 million people since 1939. Only during the Second World War around 72 million people, most of them civilians, and about 25 million of them military personnel.
The war in Vietnam took 3.8 million lives according to the British Journal of Medicine. Balkan Wars and the subsequent genocide demanded corresponding 300,000 lives. In one hundred days in April 1994, Hutus killed up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda . How many lives IS and other terrorist organizations have on their conscience today is hard to say. In the topical Syrian war, we have killed around 300 hundred thousand of us , even children. In this way we could continue to list atrocities, and also include the number of murders in the world. Then we could sit there somewhat shocked, nevertheless nodding recognizable to this dark picture of the history of humanity.
Nowadays humanity has improved?
Interestingly enough evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature”, claims that humanity has improved the last thousand years. That is; we have become less violent.
Personally I do not think he is quite right in this. Senior researcher Eric Nævdal has scrutinized Pinkers angling, numbers and figures. He holds that it is both selective and negligent to all those people who in our time would have been in the statistics of the killed, both in war and attempted murder, if not modern medicine had saved them.
An obsolete view of man.
I this really us? Is that how we humans are? Are you and I just like that too, if the opportunity arises?
The answer as several new researchers assume is the following: We have become so because we have got a wrong image of the human nature. A skewed image of ourselves that has penetrated into our feelings, thoughts and practices. A self-image that each day confirms its obvious misery throughout the current state of affairs. That’s how we perceive reality and mankind through the media. And so it has developed, because we’ve let a few of us define for the entire group how we are made, what we need and how we will achieve this in the struggle for existence.
Who has had the power to define us as human beings?
We have let very competitive power people, dominant leaders, ruthless business tops and unscrupulous financiers get the power of definition over us. They have got the power over us through their priorities and actions. This applies to state leaders as well as governmental tops that both excites conflict, and go to war to demonstrate their power and expand their areas of interest. It also applies to people who constantly have access to media, fighting for top jobs and positions in society, and for access to the richest natural-resource regions around the world. These few of us causes us to believe that they are representative of all mankind. These few of us gives us a bleak view of how we all really are – behind the facade.
When did this warped picture of ourself as human beings start?
A clearly negative shift in our view of man seems to have accelerated in the wake of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s famous quote about the so-called “natural state of man”. Here he underscores the human condition as “everyone’s war against everyone”. As capitalism gradually won ground in the economic world, quotes out of context both from both Hobbes and Darwin also legitimized the negative aspects of this development.
Spencer’s phrase, “the survival of the fittest,” was also misunderstood and pulled into a direction called social Darwinism. The very tough battle of competition and the fight for expanding market shares in business, even cynicism to employees in industrial enterprises, all this was almost perceived as an extension of the state of nature. In our days the belief in this lifelong competition and war among us, and the bitter law of business practice, as “eating or being eaten”, “kill or being killed,” seems to be lifted to new and global levels.
The misunderstood Darwin.
As Peter Amato says in “Hobbes, Darwinism and Human nature,” How we think about what it means to be human affects and influences people’s everyday perceptions of the most personal and social circumstances. (P.1 op. Cit.) He also shows to this strong impact on politics and military strategy.
In Shadyac documentary “I am” he interviewed a dozen renowned political scientists, psychologists and lawyers of human rights. The documentary focuses on the negative consequences of Thomas H. Huxley editing the later edition of Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.” Originally, Darwin reported 95 references to the love and care between individuals in the big group, while there were only two references to the “survival of the fittest “. This material ratio was tendentiously edited out by Huxley.
Psychological research on human nature.
From research on infants, we know that the child from the very beginning is oriented towards the outside world. Genetically speaking, the child is inherently social, and therefore need to be met, in a loving, warm and basically positive way. This is the only guarantee that the child’s self and personality will develop in a good direction.
The two international mammoth studies of genes, “Genome Project, and “Encode”, show under the term epigenetics that stress and negative environmental effects, do affect the original genes. It affects them negatively through the opening and closing mechanism inside the genes. Thus basically healthy children might develop serious disturbances in brain and emotional function, with social withdrawal or disruptive behaviors as a result.
Without doubt the first three years of human life are the most important. Society as a whole should really consider that fact. If the child during this period of life experience being seen, understood, appreciated and taken into account, it will also cause the child to bring this attitude forward to others. The child will indirectly have gotten a view of humanity, a so called worldview, that is fundamentally positive.
If the child on the contrary is denied empathy and pushed to its limit in order to meet expectations from parents and caretakers, or worse being neglected, beaten and abused, the child will easily get the impression of the world as a warzone, a dangerous and brutal place like in Hobbes quote mentioned above. This is a reality where the struggle for survival is fierce, and where the child itself must develop destructive strategies to survive.
Research on the best version of man.
George Monbiot in his article “Fellow men” refers to three interesting surveys. The first made by “The Common Cause Foundation”, states that 74% of 1000 asked, rated selfless values far above selfish. They put more emphasis on properties such as helpfulness, honesty, justice and forgiveness than the pursuit of money, fame, status and power. Strangely enough, when they were asked what values they thought other people accounted for, 78% assumed that others were more selfish than they actually were.
In a review article in “Frontiers of Psychology,” people seem to extend far beyond chimpanzees in terms of empathy and trust, and the ability to share with others. They also show much greater ability to care for others, also outside their own cultural circle. Chimps however seems to be more similar to the neoliberal human type, is the dry commentary.
As early as fourteen months, human children begin helping each other, and at the age of two they share with others what they themselves like. At the age of three, they protest also on offense against themselves and others .
Almost unbelievable is the fact that If one starts rewarding children between three and five years for helping others, they are less likely to help the next time. External rewards for an effort toward others seems in other words, counterproductive. And it seems to destroy the inner motivation for wanting to help . This is at least what the survey by the journal of ” Infancy ” concludes on these matters.
Freedom from being defined by others, or the right to define ourselves as human beings.
It is due time to ask ourselves: Who does in most part benefit on a misanthropic view of humanity. And secondly, who is the big loser? We now begin to realize that the egoistic, dominant and combative man is only one strategic version of us, within the framework of a reality where this story is a leader in international politics and society. Therefore, we should as soon as possible look out for and absolutely write more about human qualities that stand in clear opposition to this.
Properties of man that in the light of recent research on children and infants, are much closer to what fabric we are made of by nature, and that we need to restore to get a reasonably good life together. This would also have great impact on the environment and the climate that we are dependent on, on this planet. It also, not in the least would be closer to the truth about who really we are!