I am skeptical of any history in which I was not a participant. People’s memories are faulty and egos force people to polish/embellish their contribution and denigrate/minimize contributions and or actions of people they don’t like.
I found the following words in John Gray’s The Silence of Animals:
“If there is anything unique about the human animal it is that it has the ability to grow knowledge at an accelerating rate while being chronically incapable of learning from experience.”
If anyone read my post, Evil People, of June 16th, these words ring true.
Below is a link to a review of the book I am currently reading. This book might be a bit heavy for most, but I like the author, John Gray. If you have not read Straw Dogs, I recommend this enlightening and thought-provoking tome. To save you slogging through his latest work, The Silence of Animals--or to entice you to read it--the review provides an overview of the content.
One sad aspect of human life is how selfish, mean-spirited, and unprincipled behavior often--too often--trumps honest behavior. This is true of nations, groups, and individuals. Standing up for one’s principles can lead to ill-treatment; bullies usually prevail. Unlike with science, there is no mathematic formula to explain human behavior. Plain and simple, humans can be bad animals.
_ Sometimes, I wonder about homo sapiens. Not that I think about the species that often, but various quirks and foibles come to mind when reading anything about elections in the United States. How could a species evolve to such a stage from humble beginnings on the savanna? Actions of hordes of voters do not speak much for Intelligent Design or creationism. Why do people believe blatant lies, which are easy to spot, and vote against their own best interest?
_ I may or may not have admitted to not understanding human behavior. If not, I am reminded of this failing when watching video footage from North Korea. Either there are masses of really good actors; these people are nuts; or fear and hunger cause strange actions.
Having spent many months living and working with the Korean army, I know that people from the southern end of the Korean peninsula are different than Americans (and several other nationalities with which I am familiar). That said, soldiers that I met were a far cry from their cousins to the north, as displayed on national television.
It is no consolation for people imprisoned in countries such as the United States, Germany, or Britain, but their existence might be more pleasant than that of the average citizen of North Korea. All surely eat better.
If anyone is ever feeling down or sorry for themselves, the best cure is to watch such footage...
Good article on evil...if that’s the kind of thing that tickles your fancy. The subject does not necessarily have to tickle, but you can’t avoid ever avoid it. You can read about it every day and witness it on television. And, what would politicians do without having Hitler and Stalin to use as labels for their competitors?
I think that this guy gets it right in his conclusion that evil is too broadly defined and not clearly understood. Much evil in the world is caused by men in power making decisions that harm many people. Why? Because they can and because they use conventional definitions of evil (god, human nature, the other guy), misinform, and lie to justify their actions.
We can’t change the world, but at least we can be aware of our dilemma.
If you are in the United States and have a television within your field of vision, it is difficult to avoid talking heads blabbing about the trial in Florida. I have noticed headlines and heard snatches of commentary about this case, but have no opinion about the verdict, the woman's character, or whatever the truth might be.
When I consider people's reaction--especially media mouthpieces--I am reminded of scenes from historical films in which crowds assemble to watch a hanging or beheading. There is something in human nature driving some people to enjoy punishment of others. In this case, that lust has been thwarted...which leads to a violent reaction in the disappointed. (I wrote about this in my novel, Sister Sisteron.) Only a death sentence for the young mother would have satisfied them. Media pundits that predicted a different verdict are having to rationale that mistake (blame the jury): they had an opinion therefore they had to be right.
One might guess that nothing else is happening in the world. I will be happy when disappointed news media folks will get back to reporting world events...
I read an article yesterday about the raging battle among opposing camps in the rarefied world of biology. (Notice my clever use of “explosive” nouns and adjectives to attract attention, as practiced by 24-hour news channels to puff up drivel!). It seems that there is a disagreement over the biological origin of altruism. Why do humans help other humans for no apparent benefit to themselves? Some argue that there is a societal factor in altruism, in that people are forced to live with one another. Biologists argue that it is deeper and has to do with such things as natural selection and propagation of species. Does anyone besides evolutionary biologists care?
Later in the day, I found myself standing in line at a grocery store and was confronted with the true nature of humans: every man for himself. Watch what happens when people are lined up at a store, bank, or airline check-in and not all terminals are occupied, so the lines move slowly. The moment a new terminal/cash register is opened, people from the rear of the lines (the last to arrive) immediately rush to prevent those who have arrived earlier their rightful place (according to rules of polite society) from beating them. Happens every time.
It is also interesting to observe national character in lining up (queuing in England). The English politely form a line, whether at a bus stop or shop. German lines resemble a rugby scrum, with everyone pushing to the front. There is no shame in edging out someone less bold and getting served ahead of one’s rightful turn. In Germany, everything is allowed which is not specifically prohibited by law. There is no law against butting in line, even if rules of society might frown upon such behavior. This is a case for biologists, who understand the rule of survival of the fittest, whether it be gene or human.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.