Over the course of the human experience a “civilized” perception of nature has spawned parallel to a person, or indeed a God of nefarious temperament. It cannot be emphatically stated that malevolence isn’t present in the animal kingdom; however, the notion of something adhering to the cosmos’ cycle being inherently wicked seems illegitimate. Instead of examining the operations of the wild as a synergetic system, many in the developed world have acquired a more sophisticated approach; branding the ruthlessness of nature savagery, yet, righteously condoning the mechanical rape of the earth in the name of progress.
As technology continues to advance, Homo sapiens drift further away from our humble animal origins. The capable consciousness has perpetuated us to top of the food chain whilst scraping away connectivity with the natural world. By losing touch with our native environment, individuals also forget their composition as an advanced animal and a temporary manifestation of nature, detaching the soul from the earth, and permitting atrocities against other sentient beings.
For something to persist something else must perish, without death there be no life. It’s quite obtuse how some observe a predator in action and denote them depraved, rather than a testimony to Darwin’s Natural Selection; the animal with the most adaptable tactics will outlast their rivals. In the human world, survival of the fittest is vividly witnessed in Mixed Martial Arts; the athlete adjusting best to their opponent and applying the most auspicious strategies wins. The major difference between the two forms of contest is the institutionalized rules. It’s postulated, with the technology at human disposal, if there were not rules in combat sports sordid behaviour would be prodigiously more prevalent (consider the gladiators).
In the wild the best raw strategies take the reward, yet, in warfare it is often the most diabolical. As Clausewitz stated, war is aimed “to impose our will on the enemy… and render the enemy powerless”, habitually with morality subordinate in thought. Survival for all animals rests upon the ability to obtain sustenance showcasing nature’s process; something living, be it an animal, plant or bacteria, must die to ensure the lifecycle’s continuation.
Animals innately understand their delegated hierarchy and accept their position within it. Approaching life audaciously they battle adversity without rancour, centralizing attention towards enduring not dissenting their predicament. Some may witness the methods of particular animals and find them ruthless, however, those used by humans are vastly more concerning, in particular the excessive culling of life, not for peace, but sustained power.
Power and Supremacy
If it’s the animals atop of the food chain decimating those below, what does our position indicate? If humans are the smartest animals to exist, could it not be supposed we also be the most evil? One would like to suggest people are innately good, but the environment an individual develops in will stoutly mould their temperament. The Machiavellian idea of evil conveys a disregard for decency through focus on self-interest and personal gain, these tendencies are witnessed in animals but in the wild is this not what the fittest need do, safeguard their interests at the expense of thier rivals? They can’t sit down and have a discussion so fighting takes precedence over sociality.
When an ape beats its chest in a dominance display are they not protecting their jurisdiction’s welfare? Power makes animals feel safe; unfortunately, the human mind sponges power and moistens the ego with visions of supremacy. In nature, there is a symbiotic relationship between the animals in an ecosystem, all acting as agents for the benefit of the environment. In modern society, symbiosis sees those superior in the hierarchy exploiting individuals below, not for mutual benefit but personal prosperity.
Some animals exhibit cruel behaviour but the horrendous actions of people on the earth and each other signifies our poll position of evil creatures. Genocide has been a major part of human culture exacerbating immensely with the rise of Western imperialism. One may say we have learned from our mistakes, yet, throughout the 20th century, seven major genocides claimed the lives of over 18 million people*. Concurrently, natural landscapes have been drenched with chemicals and bombs in ambition to gain the upper hand in conflict. Delving deeper and deeper into earth’s trove of finite resources, careless consumption has lead to irreversible impacts across the globe. One of the most prevalent indicators of humanity’s immorality is slavery, uniquely human and inherently wicked.
How Did We Get Here?
Although many like to imagine humans endowed in the image of God and separate from animals in truth, we are just animals. Our evolutionary track has veered divergently, granting us the capabilities and driving curiosity to produce sophisticated tools. For all the nefarious actions committed by humans there is also reflective benevolence within us; caring, sharing, trust and empathy, are synonymous with what it truly means to be human.
Engrained through generations of prehistoric living, these elements have been vital to Homo sapiens holding hegemony over the environment. Hunter-gatherers living in small bands displayed the apex of egalitarian living, group cooperation and cohesion installing a sense of community and well being for each individual, essential to the survival of the tribe. Examining our species today, the connection shared between mutual earth walkers and the planet has been slowly dissipating, a main concern stemming from the personalized society the world has become accustomed to.
Despite the Hobbesian view of nature, it seems the further we stray away from our origins the more supremacy humans assume and the more malevolent the species becomes. To potentially reconcile portions of these discrepancies we can cast our attention backwards to our progenitors, observing how they were able to live in symbiosis with, not decimate the planet. The steam train of civilization cannot be stopped, yet, with the help of the past, we try orientate its direction towards a more prosperous future.
To assume the nefariousness of nature but neglect the avariciousness of people is folly, our modern race is the bacteria culling the earth not those living off it. Survival of the fittest has allowed humanity to rule much of the environment, however, possessing the highest consciousness of living beings, there should be added effort to not decay the planet and dominate others. Animals may display signs of depravity, yet, they are acting upon instinct and the will to survive; the extent of our free will is what makes us unique, we are simultaneously the most altruistic and evil creatures to walk the earth.
Image source: Achille Beltrame