Archive for June, 2010

04
Jun
10

Civilized Ruthlessness

Perhaps most people will agree that societies have become more civilized now compared to 100, 1,000, or 10,000 years ago. During our cavemen ancestors’ days killing, stealing, and robbing must have been commonplace in their struggle for survival, but in today’s “civilized” societies such acts are being prohibited and offenders are heavily penalized.

However, while we were somehow able to curb barbaric behavior, we still display our savage tendencies in other aspects of our social lives. In business, for example, executives are hired to kill the competitors, grab their market share, steal their customers, and even pirate their key employees. And these executives – educated and civilized – actually enjoy the “killing” in the marketplace as if it satisfies some deep evolutionary urge. And maybe it does.

In the caveman days ruthlessness would be a necessary trait not only for survival but also for propagating one’s genes. Those who survived the longest got the most chances of dominating the gene pool; those who could gather the most food were most able to rear a large number of offspring; and those who gained the most territory could sustain the best security for their clan.

In today’s civilized world – a world where the rules are set by big money and influence instead of big muscles and spears, where business, politics, and religion are the battlefields for power – the people who have evolved to rise above the others must have descended from the great warriors – smart, quick, strong, adaptable, and ruthless. Today these same qualities are as important as ever although quick and strong would now refer to the mind instead of the body. People still have ruthless tendencies, although it is more of a civilized ruthlessness. So while we no longer kill each other for food, we are still trying to “kill” each other in many different ways.




Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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