There is a thought-provoking anecdote about the development of human civilization. A plane crash survivor lands on an island inhabited by cannibals. These cannibals, led by an intelligent European-looking chief, plan to feast on the survivor. The survivor, bewildered by the chief’s apparent culture, asks, “Aren’t you influenced by civilization?” The chief’s response? “Sure, I’ve been influenced. When I eat you, I’ll do it with class—using a plate, fork and seasonings. It’ll be quite sophisticated.”
This story makes us think about why civilization has truly failed to stop wars and horrors.
Civilization needs an inside job. That is, to change human civilization for the better starts from changing the person from within. In fact, there are no horrors. The so-called horrors we witness are just people displaying their inherent egoistic human nature, which is enjoyment at the expense of others. That nature is what needs fixing. No matter where we look, on personal, social, international and global scales, human egoism is out of balance.
If people were given the freedom to harm each other, exempt from punishment and with no injurious consequences of their actions, then we would see immense barbarity. Also, together with such barbarity, we would also see people using plates, forks, knives and spoons when they eat, simply out of habit.
Besides wars and barbarism, we see our egoistic human nature playing out in much of what we consider normal and appreciated in our lives. For instance, take a sports stadium packed with dozens of thousands of people, some of them rooting for one team, and the others rooting for another. It shows how we fundamentally stand against each other.
Our readiness to root for one side while simultaneously devouring the other is the point within us that needs changing. I would personally put an end to such events, i.e., any kinds of competitive events that foster hatred and superiority.
I am not against competition in general, just that which breeds hate. We should put our heads together to create competitive events that do not emphasize who is bigger, better, faster and stronger, but that let us seek the success of unity above our egoistic and divisive nature.
If we set ourselves on such a course to compete against our egoistic nature in order to elevate unity above it, then we would eventually find that we have no need for borders between countries or any other forms that segregate people. However, first, within these borders, we need to undergo this correction: that we compete to rise above our egoistic nature, our hatred of others, and create an atmosphere of love, mutual consideration and positive connection above egoism.
Eventually, we would find that we are a single nation spread worldwide. The difference between the way this concept plays out here compared to others who have tried to implement such a vision is that their mistake was trying to build a collective transformation without changing the egoistic human nature dwelling within each person. They ignored the inherent evil within us. We rather need change within us before any collective transformation.
Today, we have reached a stage where we can learn from these past mistakes, that the use of force to build societies leads to nothing positive. However, we have yet to build a true human civilization.
Civilization means realizing the importance of strong positive connections above our inborn egoistic nature. That is the core of it. When we prioritize such connections, we align ourselves with nature’s laws of interconnectedness and interdependence, and we then come to sense a new harmonious and peaceful world open up to us.