Right from the beginning, Man rules supreme over all other life forms. He establishes himself at the top of the food chain, he goes through painstaking experiments to lit up the darkness that comes at night and through decades of scientific progression he is able to pit himself against the unpredictable weather changes. Thus he is able to place himself parallel to cosmic significance. He then proceeds to defeat the onslaught of diseases and the invisible enemies known to us as bacteria and viruses and conquers geographical hurdles. Man sustains his own survival in ways no other life forms can. The sophisticated ways in which Man maintains his existence remain uncontested by any other life forms. Clearly, humans set themselves apart from the other species because the human body is gifted with impeccable intellectual abilities. At a glance at all the achievements man had single handedly accomplished over the time, one must think what mortal hand or eye could challenge man for his position. But one may want to think again. No animals would inflict pain on another of their own kind, or even other kinds, for reasons other than self-defence and food. Yet the intelligent Man would. History of mankind illustrates man’s propensity to achieve his personal greed and glory at the expanse of another of kind. This aspect of Man remains uncontested too.
I opened my mail box one morning and received a copy of The Economist. The front cover reads “A heart-rending but necessary war”. It is rather amazing how man can associate war with the term ‘necessary’. The article speaks of the retaliation of United States against the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001. After the two great wars that threatened to annihilate the entire tapestry of humanity in the twentieth century, Man still has not learned. Man has ironically progressed from an uncivilised state to now where killing each other has become a necessity. Dropping bombs and food supplies at the same time is evidence of the disillusionment that man brings upon himself. The anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan comprises a series of bomb attacks targeted on terrorists’ camps.
At the same time food supplies are also being dropped on similar grounds, targeted on innocent civilians. Surely by supplying food to the civilians man must have contemplated initially the repercussions that would follow if a war should begin? Perhaps we should applaud that man has finally found ‘civilised’ way waging a war? Or does it reinforce that the greatest tragedy lies in the fact that man is aware of the consequences of his own action and still continues with it? War could only mean one thing; civilians from both sides die, guilty and non-guilty alike. Man is torn between what is essentially right and wrong. He chooses to kill some and save some. At the end of the day he realises that it doesn’t have to be that way at all if he had kept to what is essentially necessary, that is peace. But no, man would not hear of that now. He would want to venture into something he does not know and learn things the hard way, bringing down with him innocent lives and precious natural resources vital for future consumption. Man has now to face the unbeatable monster in him.
Consider the nuclear and biochemical weapons that man has invented. Is this another folly of the fallen man? That, we are not sure just as yet but we know nuclear weapons are not built because they happen to be another high-tech devices set in trend. It is because the existence if nuclear weapons also comes with it a newfound power for the owner. A power to kill and to control. Finally, man has found the ultimate killing means that promises high death rates and effective elimination of any party that get in his way with great ease. But the underlying nuances for such creation is scarier, the insinuation that man would destroy each other at some point in time willingly, without actual consideration for the consequences of it.
This is quite ironic for man who wielded such supreme intellect, to not to consider his actions. Or is it that Man just does not care? Examine the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where the first atomic bombs were dropped and killed more than the actual numbers at that time. The ghost of the event still haunts many today psychologically and physically. The bombs that US are dropping on Afghanistan’s territories are supposed to explode upon reaching the ground but many did not. These bomblets would then maim and kill many like landmines long after the war has ended. Man has set out to kill themselves after centuries of trying to survive? The numbers killed in relative to proportion is explicitly high and man still could not explain himself.
World War II saw the physical manifestation of evil in man. Over six million Jews were expeditiously eradicated for good from the face of the earth. Consider the methodical and efficient ways the Jews are killed tells of man who would inflict torture and pain on another fellow human being maliciously and intentionally for basically no reason at all. Even if the whole war boils down to the one sole lunatic proprietor, Hitler, it gives no reason for the rest below him to carry out such senseless killings simply because it was an order. It still astounds many that such acts that cause such revulsion now did not seem so to the culprits at that time. Man is such complicated creature that his existence is full of conflicts within himself. To defeat your enemy must mean that you understand him, but man is now faced with an enemy that he could not at all comprehend despite the natural intellect ordained from above.
A famous philosopher once said that the greed in man sows the seeds of deceit and eventually downfall of the man himself. Adam Smith’s theory of the laissez faire, to put it nicely, is the liberal allowances for man to exploit the resources for his own satisfaction. Karl Marx opposes that theory and put it simply that such freedom of actions in economy would eventually allow the greed of man to multiply itself until it could not contain itself, thus the outburst of despair would mark the end of humanity.
In Singapore, we are faced with the worst recession since the 1960s and approximately 30000 to 40000 people are out of job. In the US, more than 400 000 people are laid off in two months and numbers are still expected to rise. What we are seeing here is that the players in the economy have played against themselves. During these times, those who had hands in the stocks investments find themselves literally with nothing. The ‘Notices’ section in the newspapers sees an increase in the number of bankruptcies.
Participants in the race for property ownerships in Singapore, particularly during the mid 1990s experienced an exponential plunge in property prices and landed themselves in unending debts. Greed for purchasing power tempted many to subscribe to more than one credit card and now find themselves not able to keep afloat in the interests that tantamount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many do not realise their own folly until they fall flat in their faces. Hence the greed, miscalculation and speculative spirit becomes what responsible for the downfall of man.
In daily ventures, individuals often find themselves entangled in webs of deceit, lies, manipulation, jealousy and spite. Many times, Man is the cause of failed relationships and careers. Over-indulgence and yielding to temptations, it seems like Man’s nature works like the double-edged sword. It could build or destroy oneself. Life progresses from one of blissful existence to one of struggle. In every man lies the green-eyed monster, the inextinguishable greed and within these also is the struggle of conscience. Thus is the nature of man who has become so intricate and practically unfathomable. Until man could finally understand himself, what he wants and what is essentially necessary in life, he remains his own worst enemy.