7 Feb


primeval jungle photo: Jungle hd_sunshine_hd.jpg  I hate to admit this, but mankind is basically cruel and selfish, and that’s not easy to say because I don’t think I am and I know my lovely wife isn’t. But you can’t gainsay the evidence bound up in history.

In his earlier millennia on Earth mankind created a cruel bunch of deities, so-called gods that reflected his own penchant for inflicting a multitude of different kinds of pain. You’ve only got to examine the almost inexhaustible list of such imaginings to realise just how much of his worst characteristics mankind reflected back at himself via his gods. Of course, there were a few who were sweetness and light itself, but only a few. Thor wasn’t!

Then came monotheism – the belief that there is only one omnipotent god, and this delusion was man’s biggest downfall. It pandered to the worst excesses in his multifaceted ego and justified it by permission.

The Middle East has always been the cauldron in which the major religions were born and jostled together, where cruelty wore the same clothes as religious obsession, and it still is. And in order to perpetuate the original obsessive belief in their unique rightness, the major religions issued books that were the word of their god, beyond doubt and dispute. They were written by men, of course, not the gods they quoted. Men with the knowledge of gods! Well, the early “prophets” explained that little impossibility by claiming that their god appeared to them in visions.

I had a vision last night, to do with being navigator in my wife’s car and keeping an eye open for speed-limit signs that seemed to appear every few yards. I dared say I could mould that into a message from any god I might claim to represent, add a bit of poetic language and hey presto! The Book of Peter! What fun! “And the Lord appeared to me in a vision and he gesticulated with mighty sweeps of his arms and quoth to me, go not forth at excessive speed for it is written in the heavens that horseless carriages can crash, for it is the will of God…” or something equally stupid. And because my lesson is written down it might well survive for untold ages, be added to here and there by mischievous monks bored with just plain copying, and enter some bible at some place in time.

But my vision (or dream, as I prefer to call it) didn’t seem to have anything to do with the intrinsic cruelties in humanity, the sort being pandered to by the unworthy bullies of ISIS who claim religious precedent for their innate nastiness. It was just what it claimed to be, a dream constructed by my subconscious from familiar experiences – but I might have decided to tell it differently if I had an ulterior motive. But then, I’ve never claimed to be the mouthpiece of any deity. And those “visions” that prompted great swathes of the scriptures, they would have been dreams, too, little rambling sorting-outs by weary brains in confused times.

You see, I’ve always thought that Darwin got it just about right, though possibly he didn’t go far enough. Evolution is more than a physical thing, but has all sorts of branches from the main tree, so to speak. If we accept that every change made by any life-form is a response to pressure from his/its environment then even thought, or the pressures on thought, can be modified if that modification leads to a greater potential for survival. And one of the intellectual pursuits that did this may well have been the evolution of an instinctive desire to believe the impossible and kowtow to fellow believers judged to be superior in some way. Survival traits at their most basic, rewiring the brain!

Enter the cruelty gene.

So before history dawned our ancestors became obsequious to those who they assumed to be their superiors, and that had a consequence. It made them cruel to those they perceive to be weaker than them. And it’s still there, sometimes in exaggerated form as amongst the ISIS bullies or such megalomaniacs as Hitler and Pol Pot, and at other times in the tinpot classroom bullies I met as a schoolboy, with their love of administering painful punishment for next to no offence. And in some societies it emerges as a misogynistic hatred of women, because they’re so clearly better than the men who hate them.

There you have it, then: the cruelty gene.

© Peter Rogerson 07.02.15


8 Responses to “THE CRUELTY GENE”

  1. barbod2014angusbelle February 9, 2015 at 1:20 am #

    Do you suppose it would have been the will of that ‘god’ you were thinking about that made me crash my car on Friday, Peter? If so, that ‘god’ is indeed cruel because I am now without a car until the garage it has been taken to decide if they will be mending it or not. Hope they do or I have to get my daughter to drive me over 60 miles to this garage to collect all my belongings out of the car.
    And I think I have a broken bone in my right hand (the dominant hand, obviously)!
    Can I ask you, please, not to have any more of these sort of visions, thank you.

    • Peter Rogerson February 9, 2015 at 9:59 am #

      Have you displeased the Almighty, Barbara. Don’t tell me that you were doing 32 in a 30 limit? Hope you fully recover and they can glue your car back together.

      • barbod2014angusbelle February 9, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

        hehehe, I think I may have upset someone. Don’t think it’s likely to be any Almighty being though. I was on the dual carriageway, commonly known as the motorway up here, but only doing 55-60 as it was at a dangerous junction, lol. I’m much better now, I just have a painful knuckle which makes using my right hand a bit difficult. Still waiting to hear about the car, 😦

  2. Peter Rogerson February 9, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I wonder if cars have gods? If they do you might try praying to one… Best of luck, anyway.

    • barbod2014angusbelle February 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

      Perhaps not, hehe. I tend not to pray to any gods, ass you probably already know. Hope to see you all soon x

  3. Peter Rogerson February 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Don’t worry about typos, Barbara – I’m famous for them.

    • barbod2014angusbelle February 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

      hehe, That was just in case Dorothy was looking over your shoulder, 😉

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