Here’s another post while I continue to write up content for my new upcoming website. Just to keep some reading material on the table. Or on your screen, rather.
There are many things in this world of which we can be afraid. For me, these include but are not limited to natural disasters, freak accidents, dangerous animals, death, disease, and pretty much the average anxieties which are normal in the human population across cultures.
Even older civilizations had great fears of nature and its uncontrollable powers and mindless ability to destroy that balanced its ability to bring forth beauty and life.
However, these things are just that – mindless. They have occurred and will always occur, and I think the fact that there is no deliberate intention on the part of nature to destroy me or anyone else is something that allows me to distance myself from its wrath.
However, there is one things that truly terrifies me because of its conscious roots in the capacity to willfully and deliberately cause pain and harm. The potential for evil in the human species.
I was thinking about this concept on the morning of September 11th this week when I tweeted about it in reference to the 9/11 attacks. What came to mind was the reality that human beings are the biggest outward threats to one another. Nature may claim more lives, but it is humans that often make choices that spread suffering and destruction as well, and I think for me, the conscious desire for many people to do so is what disturbs me.
There are people in this world capable of the most repulsive and flagitious acts of violence, sadism, and hatred, and the fact that these people could be just about anybody brings to mind the image of a parasite, unseen and undetected, inhabiting certain people that manifests itself as evil, eventually coming into the light and showing its monstrous form.
We are all capable of some level of evil. We all have thoughts of committing evil acts, or crimes. But I think most of us recognize that cruelty is a malignant feature in human beings and we avoid carrying out those primitive thoughts. However, some people ignore the voice in their superego that tries to reason with them.
Of course some violence is impulsive or even occurs without premeditation. Sometimes its reactionary, a brief loss of control over animalistic urges to retaliate or defend – eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. But the existence of organized crime, serial killers, terrorism, and government tyrannies are the manifestations of humanity’s true capacity for wickedness and brutality.
For instance, I have a great admiration as well as fear of nature. But nature is not trying to literally destroy me with the intention of causing pain. It is a series of processes that may or may not affect me or take my life. But with a governmental dictatorship like 1984 or Nazi Germany, or a social movement that would imprison me for merely speaking with dissent (as a writer this is a nightmare), all of which leads to motivated murder and pain, the driving force is a mind that is set on hurting and killing to achieve its means to an end.
So, when I remember what happened on 9/11 sixteen years ago, or the genocides of the 20th Century, or the barbarism of the Dark Ages, the nefarious rulers throughout history who killed in the name of religion, conquest, politics, delusion, or otherwise, I consider this – human beings are able to do so much good, but often resort to doing so much evil because for some people, it comes more naturally to strike down those they dislike or disagree with. It’s all primitivism, the antithesis of a civilized society.
I began writing this post on the morning of 9/11, but I set it aside for a few days, for no particular reason other than I became distracted. But the concept is still and always will be fresh in my mind.
At the moment of writing this I am listening to the Leningrad Symphony by Dmitri Shostakovich, and it brings me back to a research paper I wrote in college about the symphony. It was written as a tribute to the human spirit’s ability to rise out of horror and tragedy. The large Russian city of Leningrad was demoralized and brutalized by Stalin, and then invaded and sieged by Hitler’s Nazis during World War II, and thousands upon thousands were killed or died of disease and starvation.
On my next website I will do a series going deeper into the story (it really is a great story). Listening to this music makes me realize two things – yes, there is horror in this world and there are people who are willing to commit atrocious crimes against others; however, there is also the capacity of the human spirit to rise up and out of the ashes of death like a Phoenix.
It is important to remember this.
So those are a few of my thoughts on what really scares me. Sure, living in the South, tornadoes are always a fear on the horizon, as are spiders and snakes, and you never know when an earthquake or heart attack will happen, but that just does not compare to the consciousness behind human evil that can actually think about how it wants to hurt me or others.