Manicured Fingers of Savagery

March 14, 2009
By Shefali Hegde BRONZE, McLean, Virginia
Shefali Hegde BRONZE, McLean, Virginia
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

You with the manicured fingers, the polished shoes, the cleanly trimmed hairstyle, the glistening white teeth. You with your alarm clock-centric existence, your three caloric-balanced meals, your morally-charged judicial system and your rationally-charged science system, your Bible and Torah and Koran, your Eightfold Path to nowhere. You are searching for the monster in all the wrong places.
It is not camped under your bed, enjoying the comfort of the lush carpet. It is not sprawled in your closet, amongst your redundant wardrobe, full of clothes that are just variations of each other. But the elusive monster - the grotesque antihero you convince yourself is simply the product of an overactive, childish imagination - is always in that room with you, embedded into the crevices of your mind, feeding off your smallest antagonisms.
The monster rolls on the tip of your tongue, pinches the insides of your cheeks, races across your molars, and suffocates into the back of your throat ' you swallow the lie, the cruel derision, before you are exposed. It flashes out of your eyes, in systematic spurts of envy and voracious greed, rips down the spine of your back, and pounds your heart into an intense palpitation mode, until you disguise your hatred as a shiver and brush it away. It sears your red-hot knuckles, jerks your wrist, tightens your palm, and slams your younger sibling into the ground at your feet, before you profusely apologize, stunned. You don't know what came over you.
See, we are all euphemized versions of ourselves. Every thought, every action, every maneuver, every meaningless politeness and civility is only societal provision to disguise our subliminal savagery. Our elaborate law systems give us security from our greatest fear: ourselves. We need protection from the monsters we know we are.
Yet this is an admittance that will never be outwardly verbalized ' not in polite society. Gory blockbusters that feature heads chopped off with chainsaws, combat sports like boxing and wrestling whose central purpose is to attack one's opponent until he is bleeding internally, these pursuits are lightly and unabashedly dismissed as 'purely entertainment'. Our game of lodging bullets into helpless birds and deer for no apparent reason is simply 'wildlife management' ' definitely not a reflection of our incurable addiction to lethal violence. Our constant dissolution into war, brutally bombing and insensately murdering our brethren, apparently serves the greater purpose of 'achieving peace'.
And is that not the sickest, most chilling dichotomy? That we evoke euphemisms for what can only be called murder, that we sanction killing with a complex set of legal justifications, that our acts of violence represent not a Darwinian drive, but a form of intellectualized sadism. At least those wild animals that rip their victims apart are submerged by primal hunger within their id. It is their unorganized neurological structures that force them to act like monsters. Our brains, on the other hand, operate perfectly while we commit obscenities. Despite our cruelly flawed persona, we believe ourselves far superior to other living beings. Not children of Earth, but Children of God. The 'Divine Species', whose carefully constructed civilizational graces exempt us from animalistic savagery. Hardly. Instead, they have given us convenient excuses for barbarism.
Throughout the centuries, these excuses have manifested in various disguises. Antediluvian societies practiced an almost perpetual sort of barbarism, killing with no sense of right or wrong. But as civilization developed, so too did validations for cruelty. Ultimately, the lines between right and wrong were blurred by the very same civilized constructions that humans hold in esteem: religion, science, finance, national identity.
Newborn babies were sacrificed on the hills of Megiddo in 500 BC, in the name of the pagan god Baal. The Huns plundered Eurasia in 434 AD, using brutal warfare to murder millions, for the mere purpose of conquering territory. Indians used a combination of genetics, Hindu teachings, and a social caste system to justify a cruel, two-millennia-long prejudice against 'untouchables'. Slavery, a barbaric constant of 'civilized' society from its beginnings was, in pre-Civil War United States, predicated on scientific racism and a labor-desperate agricultural economy. Genocidal campaigns of the past century have systematically tortured and executed their victims in order to achieve racial and political dominance.
We practice a very high-form of barbarism, cloaked in euphemisms and empty rationalizations. At their core, these acts of cruelty are completely id-driven - based on immediate self-gratification. But the human process of intellectualizing mass-murder has added more advanced layers to the cruelty. All these aforementioned acts of brutality had long-term goals, revealing that humans must have been in a proper state of mind while they were behaving so cruelly. In other words, following a 'civilized lifestyle' in conjunction with performing monstrous acts is not only possible, it is mandatory.
Hanging in the Holocaust museum is a black and white photo of a Nazi officer that, at first glance, looks perfectly normal. Suddenly it strikes you that there is something very, very disturbing and just completely wrong with the picture because perpetrators of genocide should look anything but normal. But there he is, Mr. Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Hitler's right-hand man. Hours before the photo was shot, he was standing in a killing-field in northern Berlin, leading thousands of cachectic prisoners on a grueling 40-mile death march. But he is now posing with his attractive family, five small girls and a boy, a haughty smile plastered on his face, perfectly convinced that his doctrine is the correct one. He is every distorted contradiction, personified. He has manicured fingers and polished shoes and a cleanly trimmed hairstyle and glistening white teeth. Just like you, he has his alarm-clock centric existence, his three caloric-balanced meals, his morally-charged judicial system and his rationally-charged science system, his holier-than-thou Bible, and his Eightfold Path to nowhere. A true monster.

The author's comments:
A sort of poetic essay I wrote recently about the barbarism of man.

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This article has 1 comment.

on Oct. 18 2010 at 6:31 am
ValkyrieRising BRONZE, Cary, North Carolina
4 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Pirates could happen to anyone."

He and his wife committed suicide and killed all their kids after the Reich fell. I don't mind their demise, but that of their kids was appalling.


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