The nature of man is a subject of great curiosity and complexity. Just the other day, I was reading about the Hobbesian philosophy, about the true nature of mankind. According to Hobbes, man is innately savage and nasty; he tends to cross the path of others for his own selfish motives. He is hungry for power, brutal and wild, and so capable in his skills that he ends up posing a threat to other humans around him and possesses huge potential for evil. This is why; he ends up having a very short life, since his natural instincts cannot be controlled from creating destruction around him.
When I was a kid, I remember being taught that a man has two entities thriving within him, and he becomes aware of them in times of crisis. One among them is an angel, who encourages him to be morally upright, listen to the good conscience and act righteously. Another is a little devil, which grows each day the more you adhere to his evil desires and advice. This further puzzled me, for I assumed myself to be the innocent one, governed only by the angel at all times and on other hand was my brother, the evil one, whose sole purpose on this earth was to pester me. The tiny world and the people around me seemed to be painted in either white or black. Little did I know that it is much more complex than that, the true colors were yet to unfold.
All those years, staying oblivious to all the evil seemed a better option. For me, in spite of all the evil around, something asked me to believe that man is more of a calm and peace-loving soul, a social animal. This is what Rousseau believed, that man tends to live in a society, ensure his peaceful living, for himself and his family. He is naturally good, and it is the circumstances around that bring out the dark side of him. Rousseau claims that it is the outside influences that compel this man to act otherwise and deviate from his inherent goodness and corrupt it. I still had faith in Anne Frank’s notion, that in spite of everything, people are good at heart. The world may turn into a wilderness, but this cruelty too shall end, and that peace and tranquility will return again…” But slowly, I see this faith fading away, withering into a bottomless abyss of malice.
And the world around justifies, how man when unguarded and unmonitored behaves nothing better than an animal. The clutches of law, society or family might not be enough to hold him for transgressing his boundaries and bringing out the monster residing within him, forbidding him from giving in to his nasty and vicious instincts. Coincidentally, I came across this novel by William Golding, the 19th century classic ‘Lord of the Flies’ that furthered by thoughts and offered new dimensions to this subject. The author skillfully paints a tale of a bunch of schoolboys being marooned on an island, away from the clutches of civilization, tender and innocent. But slowly yet without much ado, they find themselves being swallowed by their inner beast, or ‘savage’ as Golding says. He believes that every, no matter how civilized and sophisticated, is inherently violent and crude. This savagery reveals itself, the moment the strings are off and there’s no one to govern you. Man might be a social animal, but in the end he is nothing more than an animal tamed by societal norms and pressure. Take away everything he possessed, what remains within him is his destructive tendencies, and savage being.
This novel had something disturbing. A post-war novel, Golding had his explanation since he himself witnessed the death of humanity and all possible sense of morality while serving as a soldier in the Second World War. The World Wars of course, were exemplary examples of how far a man could go in quest of power and dominance. All brutality seemed justified, all bloodshed and genocide became a reason for celebration.Indeed, Hobbes has been commendable in his analysis that might sound absurd in the first go, since we’re all tamed animals of the 21st century. Violence sure pleases mankind like nothing else. There is a certain sadist residing within us, or call it that same monster who loves to see others in pain. Anger is something that comes so naturally to us, effortlessly, so unconsciously while evading that anger might be a herculean task.
Hunting used to be a popular ‘sport’ to people! Hitting your sibling, indulging in petty quarrels, getting that adrenaline rush while indulging any such act or witnessing one, are some things one cannot avoid, since that is one way your savage being channelizes itself to makes its presence known to you. Being civilized is something which always has to be taught, but being the wild one is a lot easier and comes from within, naturally. Ever wondered why?
This question might not be important, but worth a moment. How far have come evolving ourselves from being hunters and savages? Golding notes something so worthy, that there is no beast around, the actual devil is breathing right inside you! This impulse towards savagery could engulf you any day, any time. If something should scare you, it is you, and nobody else. Good luck dealing with the little monster in you!