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September 21st, 2006


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04:52 pm - Humans and Humanity
Reading this article, doesn't it make you question the very basis of what makes us human?  As a human being, are actions like that....in our nature?  I mean...could it possibly be that we constrain ourselves while in a society that doesn't tolerate that kind of actions, yet once the bars of intolerance are lifted...is there the possibility that we might all fall to that level?  Leaving the only thing that would obligate anyone to keep their conscience their own moral and ethnic code of conduct?  *sigh*  That kind of stuff isn't very encouraging...why? why why why why why why why??!  WHY IS THE GODDAMN WORLD SO MESSED UP?!  WHY DID YOU PUT US ON THIS EARTH MOTHER NATURE?! DID YOU WANT TO COMMIT SUICIDE SO BADLY?!

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Comments:


From:_zox_
Date:September 21st, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
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Reading this article, doesn't it make you question the very basis of what makes us human?

Not really...but that's because I'm horribly cynical. Humans are no better (and are often times worse) than animals. Ever read Lord of the Flies? It's all about civilized kids that turn into savages and turn against each other in a matter of days after being stranded on an deserted island.

Anytime stories about torture come up, ordinary people question how those torturers could do something like that to another human being. I forget the name of the experiment now, but it has been shown that, with encouragement from authority figures, ordinary people could and would harm others. And as sad as that may seem, that is just the way of things.
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 21st, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Ah yeah, that famous experient with the prisoners and the prison guards. But the thing is, that experiment, Lord of the Flies, and the likes are all written/tested/done to test exactly what IS human nature. So those are all ways people have questioned the basis of human nature.

What I don't get is why in nature, animals live by the law of kill or be killed, yet they're not CRUEL, they don't torture, or kill unnecessarily, they don't take joy in seeing another animal in pain, but debatably, humans do. So does that mean that since we've evolved to be more "civil" under certain circumstances, it also means that once those circumstances are gone, we just go way further the other way??
From:_zox_
Date:September 22nd, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
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But those experiments and stuff do answer the question. As human beings, we like to think of ourselves as being above animals when we are not. Take away social structure, etc., we're no better - and in many cases - worse than animals. And what makes us worse is the very thing that makes us "civilized".

It's not so much as humans, should we ever revert back, going further the other way in terms of cruelty. It's the fact that cruelty has always been in us in order for us to reach the top of the food chain in the first place. If all our ancestors ever desired was food and shelter, we'd all still be living in caves.
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 22nd, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)
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But there's other animals out there on top of their food chains that aren't cruel. Why do humans take sadistic pleasure in torturing others not only of other species, but even within our own? Where does this...pleasure come from? Certainly that's not necessary to reach the top of a food chain.

As for the initial questioning of our humanity, maybe I should clarify that into "does it make each of us question our own individual humanity and what makes us human"? As in, if one day, _we_ are allowed the opportunity to do to others whatever we want, would _we_do the same and follow the same path as that experiment and the book? Or is there faith that our own self-instilled morals and ethics strong enough to keep us from engaging in such dispicable acts? Even to those we hate with a vengence? (ie. Bush)
From:_zox_
Date:September 22nd, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
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That's just the thing, though. Humans are at the very top of the food chain. Basically, there isn't an animal out there that we can't kill one way or another. And we got to where we are by being cruel. The other animals (ie. lions, tigers, etc.) got to the top due to strength and speed. Humans are probably the most physically weak of all the animals at the top of the food chain, yet we can take our guns and kill a whole species of lions if we wanted to.

In terms of pleasure from torture, there's only a small percentage of people that actually tortures for pleasure - and we're talking about the serial killers and the really mental people here. It's easy to read about the torture of detainees and say, "oh, those guards did it because they are sadists and they get off on torture." Maybe a small percentage of them do. But for the large part, they are just normal people following orders. And that relates back to the prison experiment. Taking normal people and putting them in a situation where they have authority over others, some really crappy shit is going to happen. And that's just the way it is because we're human beings.

And it's easy for us to sit here and ask questions on what we would do in the same situation. I know I can't answer that question with any certainty.
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
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I don't think we're at the top of the food chain >__> Mad cow had us scrambling like maniacs, bird flu has us running around like chickens with our heads cut off, E. Coli made ppl scared to drink water without dumping barrels of chemicals in before hand to "purify" it, AIDs is a virus we still can't defeat, heaven forbid those "killer bees" from South America should ever decide to invade up to the north, we like to think we're pretty invincible, but in actuality, I'd say we're pretty much _the_ most most vulnerable creatures alive today.

I dunno, those pictures of those guards at Guatanamo Bay stripping the prisoners naked and all that stuff, they looked pretty happy in there, and in Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, those soldiers with the detainees feeling that one guy's...*cough* didn't seem too remorseful about it either.
From:_zox_
Date:September 22nd, 2006 11:57 am (UTC)
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Ugh...it's too early right now, so pardon if I'm not making much sense.

Mad cow, bird flu...those are diseases, not animals. You were addressing human versus animals originally, and insofar as the animal kingdom goes, we are at the top of the food chain. If you can name one animal that could and would wipe all of us out, I'll say you're right.

But if you want to pit us against viruses, I'm happy to go there with you too. Those diseases that you named are, inadvertently or not, caused by humans in the first place. If we weren't placing those cows and chickens in a situation where they're basically eating ground-up bits of themselves, those diseases wouldn't have popped up in the first place. Yeah, we don't have cures for them yet. But I can bet that none of those diseases will wipe out the human race like the human race had wiped out the dodo, polio, or any amount of animal and viruses that we have eliminated over the years. If one of those diseases ever threatens the existence of the human race, something drastic (and most likely horrible) will be done to contain it. And if we want to talk about the end of the human race, it's more likely that we'll all die because countries want to start tossing nukes at each other or global warming. But that's all due to human factors. Humans are vulnerable. Which is why I say that we are the most physically weak beings at the top of the food chain. But what we can't do physically, we have our weapons and chemicals to do for us.

All the pictures and articles aren't, and shouldn't be, representative of what those people are going through. I think unless any one of us decides to follow and study one of those guards around for a long period of time, we wouldn't understand what was going through their minds. And I wouldn't trust everything I see in a snapshot or in a brief article. Pictures and articles and (as much as I agree with Fahrenheit 9/11) documentaries are presented to us after going through extensive editing. Someone on the internet once had the time to edit together pieces of a horror movie and made it look like a comedy. The point is: don't believe everything you see. And pictures and documentaries are probably the most dangerous. It's easy to capture a second in a person's life and try to define that person by just that one second. It's easy to piece together a bunch of footage to support your views. But the end result would not always be the truth.
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 22nd, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
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You don't honestly think that humans can compeltely just wipe out a virus should it threaten human existence do you? Do you honestly think if we had that capacity, we wouldn't have used it? The simple reason as to why it's never been done is because we can't, we don't have the ability, we don't have that power. Dodos, and whatever other animals that have gone extinct due to humans in the past few centuries, those are all fairly highly evolved animals that need gestation periods and a certain time frame of at least a few weeks if not months to reproduce, viruses and bacteria can reproduce within seconds, there is no possible way humans can wipe any of them out completely no matter how advanced our technologies get. Back in history, when Europeans first "discovered" south america, they brought with them European diseases that dropped the population there for a couple hundred million to only a few million. Bring that scenerio into the present should there be a new un-curable disease (and it wouldn't surprise what with those scientists playing around with genetics and using DNA as their personal playgrounds) and with the way humans travel today, that can easily lead to a drastic decrease in human population.

As for the pictures adn documentaries, even if it's only a snapshot of a guard's life, only a millisecond, the problem is that those ppl certainly didn't look remorseful, nor forced to act as they did, and that means that even for a millisecond, that sadistic side of humans still exists. My initial question was, why?? When no other animals have displayed this trait, why do humans?
From:_zox_
Date:September 22nd, 2006 07:58 pm (UTC)
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Why not? We've done it before and I'm sure we can do it again. And even if we cannot wipe out a certain virus, I have absolute faith that the human race is horrible enough to start killing each other to prevent the spread of said virus. We haven't taken such drastic measures yet because our existence hasn't been threatened to such a point yet. When people start dropping like flies, I have no doubt that there will be concentration camps or similar quarantine methods made to separate the sick from the healthy. And I have no doubt that, should those attempts fail, the government, whether a country's own or another country's, would start dropping bombs on infected cities to destroy the whole population of those cities regardless of the rate of infection in order to prevent the further spread of the virus. While you are talking about a drastic decrease in the human population due to an outbreak, my original point was that there is no virus out there that will totally wipe out the human race to the point of extinction as the human race have done to others. As cliche as it may sound, humans are worse than viruses in that they will kill each other in order to survive while viruses kill other cells. But that is getting so off the topic of what you were originally talking about. In terms of animals versus humans, is there still a doubt in your mind that humans are at the very top of the food chain? As to why the sadistic side exists? After all the examples of how horrible human beings can be, does this still need to be answered? The ability to be cruel is in all of us because we are human.

And, well, we'll just have to disagree on the torture pictures. Any picture is not enough to define a person. Imagine how horrible it would be if you were defined for the rest of your life by a picture taken at your worst moment.
From:_pseudonym
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:03 am (UTC)
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Mm... well, can you think of any animals that deliberately torture, mutilate, and maim other animals of their own species? It seems to me that humans are the only ones who do that. It's human nature... as sad as it is to say. War. Murder. Rape. Kidnapping. Other species don't do that sort of thing.

And, the argument could be made that other species lack a conscious to do these things. Though, conciousness is the thing that makes us human. No other species possesses it and no other species does the sort of things that we do. So yeah, it's all about human nature.

And you're right. That is pretty damn sad and fucked up.
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:09 am (UTC)
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Your icon should be imprinted into the first page of every bible ever printed on this planet, Amen. *snicker*
From:_pseudonym
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
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:P I saw it and was like... 'OMG! I need that!'

Oops. Sorry to post more after you replied. ^_^; Don't mind my ramblings. We were having this discussion the other day in literary class (believe it or not).
From:_pseudonym
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:17 am (UTC)
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There are also societies that do, apparantly, allow tolerance those sorts of actions. You know, so long as it suits their needs. All it takes is one nutbar and you have a whole bunch of idiots bumbling their way after them blindly. Humans can be very strong creatures, yet they're also horribly weak at times.

Though, I don't think that it all comes down to authority. Fear is a driving factor. Fear makes us do things that we normally wouldn't do, perhaps. Everyone has a breaking point. While I think that some people are incredibly twisted and do take inane pleasure in barbaric and brutal actions, there are also others who are under the influence of someone like that, or someone who is slightly off in the head. And as stupid the actions are that mentally ill people do, they also have the power to hold authority over other people (consciously or not, I think), because they're completely free from the rules and influences of society. And so, they are able to instill fear.

Again, I think this also plays into the weakness of the human race. It is natural to gravitate towards strong people. As well, humans are incredibly selfish creatures as well. If given a choice between being the one doing the torturing or whatnot and being the tortured, which would most people choose? Most people would choose their own life.

(Note - I did not say, which one would you choose, but which would most people choose?)

I'd like to say that I'd choose death or punishment or torture over being the one who has to torture people, but I've never been in the position and so I cannot truly say what I would do. I've never experienced that kind of fear before. Fortunately, I don't think I'll ever be put in that position.

So, yeah, it's one thing to sit here and wonder how the hell people could do that to other people. But, if you look at it closely, it's not all that bewildering at all.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:20 am (UTC)
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That's a slippery slope your riding on Mengya. For the most part (and after reading the article) I agree with your nihilistic point of view; if we didn't have the societal reinforcements in place, we would be able to justify any actions as part of the human condition. However, I think that even without the reinforcers, most (key word lol) of the human population would be able to retain an innate capacity for rationality and compassion. Dare to dream, I guess...-James
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From:koneko_desu
Date:September 22nd, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
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Ehehe, why're you telling me _I'm_ on a slippery slope when it's the two commenting above you that disagree with your view? xD
From:_pseudonym
Date:September 22nd, 2006 05:08 am (UTC)
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I disagree with this. The whole point of society was to create rules and governance. Even the *idea* of society is human nature... whose idea was it exactly to decide that everyone should adhere to certain things? Who was the person or who were the people who made such rules and laws? Already, you have people following someone who is stronger, someone who is a leader.

Even if the rules are there to keep human nature in place, they're still rules. They're still restrictions set by someone who decided they had the authority to do so. And so, people followed.

I don't think that people wouldn't still keep to being rational and compassionate should the restrictions of society not be a factor. I'm sure there's many people who'd kill Bush the first chance they got. (for example) If there isn't any order, then there's chaos... and people will do what they want if there aren't any consequences. That's human nature. It IS human nature to be BAD.

Everyone would like to think we all start off innocent and the like, but from a very early age... we learn the word 'NO'. We are punished, even as children... as people who haven't yet been molded by the ideals and values of society. Even if our parents say 'no', kids will sneak around and do it anyways. It is goodness that we learn. We don't learn how to be bad; we already know!

If you take the stance that if we are indeed already 'civilized' and then the societal structure ceases to exist, you are still going to have power struggles. You will have anarchists. You will have people doing whatever they can to get into power because they can. Because everyone wants to be in a position of power. No one wants to feel inferior.

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