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The idea that we all have sinful natures never goes over very well in any setting, but an even less popular truth is the biological reality of who and what we are as a species. We are rather appalling creatures, capable of horrendous evil, evil being a concept we can’t even comprehend without some recognition of our higher selves to measure it against.

Outside the context of civilization, learned values, and mutually agreed upon standards of behavior, people are absolutely horrendous. Given the proper conditions, it is just surreal what horrors we are capable of. Like most people who are fairly comfortable and safe, I have a hard time seeing it. I actually feel entitled to civilized behavior. Anything outside those parameters is a fluke, a rare injustice that will be met with lots of outrage. I expect to be sheltered from the full force and horror of people’s natural barbarism.

Civilization is a really thin veneer, it’s a mutually agreed upon delusion. It’s something most of us are so conditioned to expect, that the truth of ourselves absent those values is all but forgotten.

People are bullies to say the least. We are ostrasizing, vicious, territorial, and violent. We prey on the weak, we exploit the vulnerable, and we kill with impunity. We are in a constant state of seeking dominance over others, of acquiring goods, territories, and control. We actually entertain ourselves by watching others commit atrocious acts of violence, the more suffering and misery the better. That is our favorite form of recreation. Remember the Roman Coliseum? That is us, finding our amusement in ripping people limb from limb.

We are not that different today, we seek movies filled with sex and violence for entertainment, often from the perspective of conquest and victory over others. If we can actually combine our sex and violence, all the better. Our TV’s are full of Sex Crime Investigations and Special Victims Units, and serial killers and psychos and assorted atrocities. Sometimes justice is a theme, but only in terms of trying to add some legitimacy and excuse to the fact that we have just spent two hours gleefully entertaining ourselves with sexually draped female corpses and the aftermath of some guy’s violence.

Women can be absolutely appalling too. There are numerous cases of female teachers preying on their students, of conspiring to off their sexual rivals, of murdering the born and unborn. Often women are a bit more passive aggressive, a bit more devious, but we’re right up there in the capacity for evil department. Some of the greatest horrors inflicted on women, are supported, encouraged and advocated by other women. Look at Chinese foot binding and Female Genital Mutilation. Those are/were physical mutilations perpetrated upon women and enforced by other women. The matriarchy is not a kind world either.

It’s difficult for many of us to wrap our brains around, we assume that there are some natural instincts that kick in, some evolutionary traits that pop up, so people will at least make decisions based on survival value alone. Those are surprisingly limited and incredibly fluid. People will protect their young…unless those young threaten their throne, their power, in which case, we casually snuff them without a second thought. Read British royal history. Men will also protect women, as long as they believe they are reaping some benefit. The moment you lose favor, off with her head.

Sometimes when I watch survival shows like the Walking Dead or Naked and Alone or Doomsday Preppers, I just want to laugh. Let’s simply organize ourselves into a mutually agreed upon goal and sacrificially risk our lives for the common good. Everyone will be on the same page here, we’ll all work together, all having an equal voice, and nobody will ever descend into complete hysteria, panic, or mindless slaughter. In truth however, we cannot even organize a proper PTA meeting within civilized society. We cannot even hold a white sale at Wal-Mart without somebody getting killed. Our base instincts rise to the surface rather quickly in the real world.

People never like to hear this, but the rules of Western civilization have been laid down and founded on Christian values. It is Christian values that give us our standards of behavior, that promote the idea that might does not make right, that we should work to protect and serve the weak and vulnerable rather than snuffing them out. That does not mean there are not lovely Buddhists in the world and Hindus and non believers and native tribes all over the world with valuable traditions and beautiful ideas to share. That does not mean that Western civilization is not deeply flawed and full of atrocities and abominations. It simply is what it is. The behaviors and codes of conduct that we in so called civilized society enjoy and take for granted, have been built upon religious values, tradition, and history.

World history is full of examples of feudal lordships, of communist dictators, of socialism gone awry. We have endless examples of warlords, monarchies, and violent tribalism, with few if any protections for the weak and vulnerable among us. Western civilization did not just spring forth out of nothingness, it is built upon the history and experiences of those who came before us and it incorporates a clear understanding of the nature of human behavior.

Someone accused me of not caring about non believers yesterday and yet I am keenly aware that it is the safety and freedom of Western values and democratic principles that allow for non believers to non believe, relatively safe from persecution and violence. We live in a country where people will actually risk their very lives, just to attain what the poorest among us have. There is incredible goodness to be found here. Those are the values I would like us to recognize, value, stand up for, speak in favor of. These things we tend to take for granted are worth fighting for. They are ideals, visions we have for ourselves and others. Somebody said I had no right to promote such malicious and oppressive values. Yes I do, because there is nothing malicious and oppressive in supporting ideals that advocate that you should be able to live in land of more opportunity and economic freedom than any other, a land where you can believe as you see fit, a land where we have seldom had to experience war on our soil, a place where you are free to non believe to your heart’s content and still keep your head.

It’s rather appalling to me that we have people walking around who cannot see this, who believe people are just innately good and civilized, that the protections and opportunities we all enjoy within modern civilization are just the result of natural human goodness and therefore available within any other system or context we choose to reside within.

What makes that especially scary to me is that if enough people continue to fall for that deception, than we will get to learn all about the true nature of ourselves all over again, the hard way. Personally I was kind of hoping not to have to go there.