What would you do if you were thrown onto a deserted island?
As human beings, we take pride in our civilization. No matter which part of the world we are in, being civilized is what distinguishes us from animals. However, civilization is a tricky thing.
Look at the Louve, Shakespeare, the Colosseum, those represent civilization; but look at Darfur, Hitler, Nuclear weapon, those are civilization too. The wonderful William Golding once told us that evil is within all of us, but (in)famous social psychologist Zimbardo also tells us that it’s the situation that is all that matters…
We wear clothes because that is a symbol of civilization; we read because that is the source of knowledge; but is that within human nature to be naturally gravitated towards spreading knowledge and the creation of knowledge? Or is that the very nature of the human society that we must behave in that way? And if we’re stripped off of the structure of such a “society”: no laws, no surveillance, no economy to propel, then what will become of us? Are we still human beings, even without civilization?
We have done all we can to make sure we do preserve that very last bit of civilization even when we are out in the wild. We bring our own thermos, blankets, tents, pots, canned food, etc. And we do all that because we want to… be closer to nature?
No, we do that not because we want to be closer to nature. We do that because we want to remind ourselves that we are superior to nature. We have all these gadgets to make our lives easier. We want to remind ourselves that we have come a long way since the Neanderthals. We want to remind ourselves that we have found ways to cheat death (well not really, but have at least successfully delayed it).
Despite all the bad things civilizations have brought upon the human race, we don’t seem get enough of it. Being “civilized” defines us. We sure can’t afford losing it.
No, not yet.