The myth of living in a civilised world

A long, long time ago we humans lived in the wild, hunted animals for food and spent all our energy on surviving. Fight or flight were our go-to options whenever we had to take important decisions.  Might was right and thus the strongest one was always chosen as the decision-maker for a big group of people. There were no rules and consequently no violations, we were as untamed as the animals that lived in the jungle with us.

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Once upon a time we were as untamed as wild animals but now we call ourselves civilised.   PC: Larry Li

Not too long from then man learnt to grow crops and produce food in a planned and organized manner. We learnt to share both resources and responsibilities, culture developed and human values were formulated. People learnt to live not just for themselves but together in a society in which everybody, strong or weak, was taken care of. We came to understand and practice love and rise above our individualistic needs and desires. Laws were formulated so that there was a framework to live within and people disrespecting the framework knew that there was a price to pay if they wished to continue living in what was now called a civilization.

As time progressed, we moved from living in villages to towns and cities and eventually a metropolis developed. Man called it an urban jungle. We were again struggling to survive only it was a different kind of struggle this time. People jostled for space and money, the latter being a synonym for power in civilised society.

The competition to survive intensified with time. There was more greed, hunger (for money and power), jealousy and impatience. It was all about achieving more of everything and getting to a place faster and more efficiently than the other (that nobody knew or knows where lies this place is apparently not important enough to be given much thought). The animal within us emerged again.  We made lofty laws but violated each other all the time. We went to fancy schools but forgot basic human values such as love, honesty and compassion. We wanted it all but just for ourselves. It’s not called a dog-eat-dog world for no reason. Only this time, we are called urban animals. Sounds like an oxymoron, don’t you think?

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Man is an animal and greed, his religion.  PC: Anna Dziubinska

We have come so far and yet not much seems to have changed. Our greed to dominate is still intact and as time has gone by we have given it free rein once again. Makes me wonder do I wish to be a part of the pretension of living in a civilised world as a civilised citizen of it. What is the point of being an urban animal, should we not be either an animal or a civilised human being? Isn’t wild and free better than tamed on the outside but wild inside? Isn’t the latter more dangerous than being an animal in the jungle who does not hide behind fancy names? Animals kill only for survival, not out of greed or a hobby. Should I choose to be more like the untamed animals and call this world out for all the lies it tells every day?

Let’s start with relationships. We are a society addicted to consumerism and material things outweigh the importance given to relationships and bonds we share with people. What we receive from others happens to be more important than what we can give. Parents spend more time chasing their goals than with their children which they had because they wanted ‘a family’ in the first place. We spend more time interacting with everybody digitally than we do in person. We know more about celebrities than about our neighbours and colleagues because that’s where our time is spent. People also happen to cheat easily in marriages unlike animals who are clear about sticking to one mate or mating with many and not claiming to be a monogamist in the latter. We are also easily misunderstood despite having the luxury of many languages to converse in. Doesn’t it all make you question the point of relationships in the current age and time?

Love has become a commodity sold online. Greeting cards, love emojis, websites that will help you find the perfect partner, gifts to shower upon those you love (but do not have a lot of time for), romantic getaways (romance is left to getaways because who has the time for it every day), membership to old age homes, gadgets that will keep children busy while parents catch up with social media, the list goes on. It’s funny that love is still thought of as one of man’s very basic needs. Who really has the time for it anymore? More importantly, hasn’t love become about fulfilling one’s needs (physical and/or emotional) than experiencing the world of love? Isn’t that exactly what Tinder is about, fulfilling your needs because that’s what we, as a society, are about now. What is love if not a commodity?

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Swipe right if you like, key in your credit card details to buy an expensive gift or send an emoji to say sorry because love can be accessed with a smartphone now. What is love today if not another commodity in our lives?  PC: Rodion Kutsaev

People spend a large part of their days and lives working. They work for organisations that aim to get the maximum output out of their employees for the minimum possible $ they can spend per employee. It’s not a common goal that drives people to work together but simply $’s. I think it is quite sad that we end up spending our life with the sole aim of earning more (to support our family or meet our never-ending needs) when we have the choice to actually work towards something more meaningful and fulfilling. Why do we do it? Because money is power and the urban animal wants more of both. The Dalai Lama rightly said (paraphrasing here), man spends most of his life earning money, then spending it to earn back his deteriorated health and while he’s in the process of doing the latter loses time he was left with. What a pity, is it not?

The above also happens because we fail to share. Our greed has overtaken our lives so much that it is labelled fancy to hoard. More cars, more houses and everything else money could buy. If we have plenty then it’s certainly not for the purpose of sharing (now done primarily to earn tax concessions or fulfill obligatory Corporate Social Responsibilities). Materialistic luxuries sit high up in our priorities as opposed to spending the money where it could actually make a difference.

We still pretend though that our society is one where every single person is equal irrespective of gender, race, skin colour, economic status and so on. Simultaneously we reek of the desire to be superior to those around us and guard our superior status so successfully that the society we live in is anything but equal. It’s the 21st century and women are still struggling for an equal footing in every sphere of life. The LGBT section has a different struggle altogether. The caste system too has cut across our society so intricately it’s hard to heal the divisions created. Fair is still the preferred skin tone in many South Asian countries so much so that fairness creams do more business than perhaps health supplements.

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We have a really long way to go before we can claim to be living in an equal and just society.  PC: Christian Sterk

Animals know that they are dependent on the environment so they are humble about their existence but not man. He seems to think that he has the skills of a creature so magical and innovative that the environment is but another resource. So what if it doesn’t survive? Human progress is more important, not the destruction we cause in the process. Flora and fauna of this world is replaceable, who cares whether or not forests, wildlife, sea-life or even our depleting atmosphere survives? We (the civilised animals) can deal with it all. Makes man appear not only selfish and arrogant but also stupid in my opinion.

Love, relationships, time spent working, equality, justice, countrymen and women, the environment, we do not seem to value or respect anything at all except of course money and power.  I fail to understand how we could continue to call ourselves civilised. We are anything but! Leaves me thinking, do I prefer to live like a civilised animal or one that’s wild but at least not a hypocrite like man. Should I succumb and keep up all the bullsh*t that society encourages, propagates and lives out as part of its everyday life or just find my own way, out of the mess we live in? Does being born in a messed up world justify propagating it? Do I close my eyes and deny the truth like people do? Is it even worth asking these questions when you will read this article and immediately move on to another one as if all this doesn’t concern you at all, as if my truth is different from yours? Is it?

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