Last weekend Josh and I caught part of Children of Men (excellent movie) on television. Even though we had both seen it before, we were completely appalled by the scenes where Clive Owen and the pregnant girl are being taken into the refugee camps. Those poor, poor refugees, getting beaten and shot because the British had the power. And then Josh and I started talking about how, if anything catastrophic like the cessation of births for eighteen years happened in real life, it would be exactly like it is in the movie: countries scrambling for preeminence of power, and whatever country seized it would use it to subjugate anyone not of their country or ethnicity.
What a depressing reality.
It makes me wonder if morality and ethics are just a front, just a way of being politically correct when political correctness is valued. In times of widespread crisis, no one seems to give a rip about being moral or ethical; it is all about self-preservation. Or, preservation of the people that are like you. And that is an animal instinct, to use your strength to cut down the weaklings in order to assure your own survival, caring about nothing but preserving your genetics so that they can be passed on. That’s survival of the fittest. And I would say that humans on the whole are social Darwinists, but I think it goes much deeper than that: I think when humans, or groups of humans, are threatened, they revert to the ferocity of their pure animal natures, right and wrong be damned.
These dual natures seem like they should be in conflict a lot more often than they actually are. But perhaps because ethics and political correctness are virtues that are socially ingrained from a young age, we are only able to let them go under extreme stress, or because of extreme fear. This isn’t a pun, but I think fear is one of the most terrifying things in the world, because it can brainwash, it can make people do things that are hateful and vile. It can deprive us of our humanity, and blind us from seeing the humanity of others. It can make someone torture another person, a human being just like themselves. Because if you do it to someone else, that means they can’t do it to you. If fear was eradicated, or at least dealt with in a rational way, we could avoid having to witness things like genocide and terrorism.
This is what happens when I watch post-apocalyptic movies: I get depressed and start ruminating on everything that is wrong with the world and whether or not humans are inherently good or inherently evil. I can’t help it!
So as not to end on a downer note, can we have three cheers for Prop 8 being repealed in California? That, I think, is one huge step in recognizing everyone’s humanity and conquering fear.