Modern Heart Spewing Modern Cruelty

from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1368918.ece, a tale that boils up my anger…

Three girls who were imprisoned by their mother in a house of indescribable filth for seven years may never recover from the ordeal, experts said last night.

The girls were shut away from the outside world, existing in almost complete darkness, playing only with mice and communicating in their own language.

When they were discovered, their home in a smart, upper middle-class suburb had no running water and was filled with waste and excrement a metre high. The floor was corroded by mice urine.

The cruelty that is shown in this incident is really prove that modern ‘advancements’ does not really advance the heart in anyway. Humans are sinful. Period.

Authorities are now under fire for failing to have intervened sooner, despite repeated complaints by neighbours in the well-to-do Poestlingberg.

It’s easy, too easy, to cast the blame on a backward setting, but no, this was done in a well-to-do community. Right under the nose of those people that we thought had the sensibility of knowing what is right and what is wrong…. of thinking that richness is an elevation of societal pitfalls. For all the richness and progress in thought and physical prowess, all these are insignificant to the age old sinfulness of man’s heart.

So the lesson to learn? Do not be too comfortable with your surroundings and too ill-prepared for the harshness and cruelty of man. Just when you think things cannot sink deeper into the pits, it does.

You want to make people fume in anger? Easy, tell them of these atrocities. Tell them it was done in a rich suburb of modern people. Let that fact sink down into the listener. And wait.

It’ll come up.

God help us, this corrupted nation.

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5 thoughts on “Modern Heart Spewing Modern Cruelty

  1. I believe the mother is just one of the rare maniacs we have in this world and it is absolutely unfair to relate this with a typical civilized person/community.

    However, the statement “”Humans are sinful” caught my attention well. And also your pessimism towards the human society. I wish to comment further from there.

    Throughout the history, billion gallons of blood spilled in the name of war, politics, greed, glory, lust,etc. Sometimes i wonder, if people are more tolerant and show greater compassion, many meaningless death could have been avoided. But certainly this isn’t an utopia world.

    I watched a documentary, showing female leopards killing its own kind (cubs). The reason for their action – eliminating possible threats posed by these cubs in the future, especially in terms of territory and food. Isn’t that equally cruel, an adult animal killing cubs? One may argue that animal and human’s intellect and status differ. But my point here is – humans are simply creatures packed with animal instincts. We, the human are doing exactly what the animals are doing, albeit in different ways.

    Just like how Charles Darwin put it, we live in a world where every single human and animal are continuously fighting for its own survival. In this kind of environment, moral is something absurd to our instincts. Peace do not exist even in the environment of ‘peaceful’ animals such as panda. Nevermind whether the theory of Evolution is convincing or not, but the maxim will always hold true.

    Hence, my conclusion – just like what you always say in your lectures – human nature can never change. What more about human instincts? Ugly things happen day-in day-out ever since the beginning of human history, and the sad truth is, there’s nothing much we can do to change human nature. Mother Teresa can’t, Buddha can’t, Gandhi can’t and not even Jesus. Perhaps, the best way to live one’s life is to be a little more optimistic and look at the brighter sides of everything. There’s no such thing as solving problems, we can only outgrow them. When one understand the truth about human nature, just like the quote ‘Ignorant is Bliss’ suggest, sometimes, it is better off not learning the dark side of the world. If this is the law of how the universe is gonna work, it will remain this way regardless of any circumstances.

    Just like a chain-smoker will only stop smoking when he gets some funny diseases, human will only aware of crisis when the shit hits the fan. This is another human trait which we can’t do much about it. Let’s hope the global warming will not eat the earth up in 20 years time.

  2. It is really refreshing (always is) to hear good and well thought out comments. 🙂 Since I am now on holiday (ending tomorrow 😦 sigh) I will try to reply to the comments given.

    Firstly, the thrust of the post was the fact that this is not an isolated event. If you were to scroll down the article, Austria is already reeling from another recent similar news. I posit that given the right situation, ambience and sequence… anyone may fall into the same ‘hole’ which this mother has dug up for herself.

    I disagree on both your points. Firstly, on the cause of the problem. “The Maxim will always hold true” cannot be true when Darwin’s theory is flawed. It is hard to go into the details of it, but it is not a universal truth or fact that our nature is merely a form of a more complex animal instinct. And this I can argue out from a legal view point. You cannot appeal to the ‘natural’ instinct or to the ‘survival of the fittest approach’ of a human being in a homicide case. You just cannot. It may prove the motive of the murder, but it is certainly far from being a defensible point in the courts of law. And the reason is because we are more than just ‘animal instinct’ or ‘survival’ by nature.

    The courts of man has decreed that man is intrinsically different from animals, and thus man’s actions are from the depths of a heart that is bound by soul, body and mind. Cruelty is thus, not sanctioned under Darwin’s theory (which I can give a more thorough assessment next time, but I wont’ here :P). Cruelty is human failure to live up to the expectation of the moral standard (in the lectures, I hinted a bit on this in the section on ‘moral law’). My pessimism is thus, founded on the fact that cruelty is hardwired into our nature and is only shown/revealed given the right situations. In religion, we call that ‘sinful nature’. A more socialistic convention would be ‘flawed nature’.

    Secondly, there actually is a way to change man’s nature. I’m not referring to habitual habits like smoking and drinking… but things that are more fundamental in its power like ‘cruelty’. Man cannot change himself truly, or perfectly, because he is already charged with a cruel heart. It is like adding more clear water into a glass of salt water. It may be diluted, but it will not be anything else than salt water (that tastes less salty). If man cannot herald any lasting change to its nature, that leaves one other option; must be supernatural. I’ll leave that branch of logic here, before readers think that I am ‘preaching’.

    Ignorance cannot be bliss. Ignorance is at best, superficially bliss (like what you have implied).
    There are absolute truths in life that exposes this. If not, why have a court of law in place for a society? Why have order in a family setting? Add the sinful human nature and you get a depraved people that is doomed to their own cruelty (whatever level is exhibited physically). If that does not make us cringe at the thought of hopelessness and stir our need for answers, I do not know what else will. Our live proves too much of this. 🙂

  3. Just to clear up some confusion here, my statement related to Darwin was not pointing towards the incident of the mother’s treatment to her daughters but rather to the statement ‘Humans are sinful’. =). I’m not really interested in the story as I treat these incidents as just something outrageously lunatic. Rather, I’m more interested in searching answers and inspiration on the truth about human and life by looking from a more philosophical and scientifically perspective. Basically,’ The Law of Life’. Maybe you can blog about what you think about life, that should be interesting 😉

    I like this statement of yours “My pessimism is thus, founded on the fact that cruelty is hardwired into our nature and is only shown/revealed given the right situations.” I will spend more time giving thought on this.

    While on the issue of changing human’s nature, I do not have the tendency to believe in supernatural thingy so I will not give much comment on that. :). However, I will stick to my initial point; human’s competitive nature (for money,power,love,emotion,etc) will keep the world struggling. Siddartha Gautama saw through this, and therefore said to attain highest peace and happiness, one should be free from craves and desires. But I don’t really favour the philosophy anyway, as I believe it is far from being moderate for an ordinary person.

    Now, mentioning about moral, I would like to share my two-cent worth of thoughts on this discourse. I’m not trying to agree/disagree with you, but rather, just reflection of my personal observation here.

    I observed and apprehended that moral is something very subjective and relative to the environment of a person/society. Hence, I believe to draw a line to define the black area and the white area of morality especially in universal terms is not something easy to do. The most common example I can think off is premarital-sex. To some people, premarital-sex is seen as something very usual with nothing much to hoo-haa about, where as some people declare this as morally unacceptable. Now, who is right and who is wrong? Obviously, a person who is religious will have a tougher stance against premarital-sex. But just because religious people think it is wrong to have premarital-sex, it does not mean people who practice this act are indeed 1000% wrong. These are just religions’ (eg. Christian & Islam) moral values, not the world’s value. Vice versa, just because some people see nothing wrong with practicing premarital-sex, it doesn’t mean reserved people are being old-fashioned conservative and close-minded. It is just two groups of people holding different sets of moral values looking at two different perspectives.

    Another example I can think off is the ‘exotic delicacy’ for people in certain countries. In Vietnam and China, to have cats and dogs as delicacy is something very common in both countries. However, to people who have more ordinary appetite (angmohs?), consuming the meat of cats and dogs is a grossly unthinkable act. Now, if we are going to pass on our personal verdicts on whether the Chinese and Vietnamese are being improper in consuming this category of meat, i’m very sure, there will be a very strong subjectivity in every opinion. This subjectivity is highly influenced by the environment of the person/society. Rough instances – an animal lover will have contradictive opinion with a person who perceives animal lives very lowly. A person who eats to live will have different thoughts with a person who lives to eat. So, who are we to declare one party is more right than the other?

    Of course, in extreme cases such as war, murder, rape, rob, torture, etc, there is very little grey area involved as these acts can easily be classified as morally unacceptable among the world’s societies. Speaking very generally, what I’m trying to point out is, each of every person/society holds different sets of moral value on various circumstances, exactly just like people having different opinions on different issues. If absolute truths do not exist for opinions, then, there should not be any absolute truths for morality either. (excluding extreme cases, of course).

  4. Just thought it would be interesting to address your observation, which is pretty well articulated. 🙂

    As I understand from your explanation, you view moral as relative (no absolutes of right and wrong, but a matter of perspective). The two examples given is certainly useful in establishing your point, however, it does not really provide solid grounds to prove that there is no absolute right or wrong in those situations. The appeal made is to the fact that there is only subscribed values. Similar to what Sigmund Freud prescribes in the formation of the ‘ego’ and then to the ‘uber ego’.

    If you were to analyse other types situations that displays moral judgments that are more fundamental to everyone irrespective of background, race and culture, you’ll detect discrepancies that challenges this perception. Take for example; a child’s relationship with the parents. Why would a parent discipline a child for doing ‘wrong’ things if ‘wrong’ is basically a relative thing? This is a question that should be asked to a parent that subscribes to relativistic moral values. And the answer is because it is wrong. Somethings are wrong… no ‘reasonable’ parent would allow their child to do something that is ‘harmful morally’ to their ownself. Here again is the disclamer, a parent that allows their child to indulge in the child’s own wants & behaviour is basically one that in classified under the ‘cruelty inducing’ category.

    Take it that no country would allow ‘thieving’ nor any family institution would allow their child to steal from another. Would the actions be acceptable if the family members were to explain that they come from a family of thieves? Nay. Therefore, if some fundamental moral values like murder, adultery (unfaithfulness), respect, stealing, are wrong, does that not an evidence of absoluteness in certain moral values (for now)?

    I’m again appealing for fundamental principles of morality as an evidence of absoluteness, in contrast to secondary principles like exotic animal eating (which is more of preference rather than moral… since it deals with the stomach) and pre-marital sex (the wrongness is derived from the institution of fidelity & contract).

    IF you can see that there is certain moral absolutes in life, then the theme of originality of these morals would come into place. Where were these absolutes derived from? It is not possible to appeal to Darwin as certain things like ‘lying’ goes contrary to the theory (Darwin would say that lying is acceptable since it ‘preserves’ the being rather than creating ‘guilt’ which is negative/undesirable to the being).

    And again, you pointed such ‘extreme’ cases of war, rape, etc… and these are again traced back not to societies, but to some principle standard. Which is why it is interesting to see various civilisation coming up with the same order of law (take China & the Western block). Good research necessitates us to take all cases into consideration and find a hollistic conclusion or observation that is applicable.

    Find the source of absoluteness and we are on a very applicable hollistic theory on our very being. My two cents (more I think :P)

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