Man Against Himself

by Fernando Perfas

| Photo by David B. King via Flickr/Commons CC BY 2.0

Genus Homo Sapiens is the most successful species to dominate the planet. It wasn’t a small feat considering the magnitude of competition against other predators and the environmental exigencies that came with surviving in a harsh environment. Early in human evolution, the importance of the group for survival took center stage. The mutual protection that the group provides against predators and adversaries or competitors was an important source of security. It sets the stage for what became early man’s social environment and how it shaped man’s highly evolved social brain. These conditions had a defining influence in shaping man’s psychological makeup.

We are not sure when man’s self-awareness started to manifest. When early humans began to form attachments and develop human relationships, thus facilitating group living, self-awareness must have been well-established. I guess soon after that, the innate drive to exert control over the physical and social environments led humans to compete for power and dominance within the group. The evolutionary dictum of “survival of the fittest” ruled early man’s struggle against environmental challenges. The urge for power and dominance emerged as humans began to form complex groups from the clan, to a tribe, to larger alliances. The main purpose was to obtain and control resources for survival.

Today, we also see these things expressed in anti-immigration, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, abortion, voter suppression policies and laws, and many other efforts to control and exclude certain groups.”

Power and dominance, as they relate to the control of resources, were vital for the survival of the early man and remain important to this day. They are engraved in man’s DNA and manifest in various forms in present-day societies. We still have urges for tribalism, racial supremacy, familial dynasty in business and politics, or territoriality vestiges of man’s struggle for power and dominance. Wars fought and ethnic cleansing perpetrated over these.

“Today, we also see these things expressed in anti-immigration, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, abortion, voter suppression policies and laws, and many other efforts to control and exclude certain groups.”

Man’s relentless quest for power and dominance has produced mass movements and conflicting ideologies in political, socio-economic, and religious spheres. Religious crusades and jihads were scourges that resulted in mass killings in the distant past. Science and technology have led to nuclear bombs and other sophisticated weaponries. In computing, artificial intelligence and the applications of nanotechnology have become tools to compete and dominate in commerce and geopolitics. It’s true that all these technologies have less sinister applications, but the underpinnings of the drive for power and dominance are always present. The fallout from man’s folly can be catastrophic when this restlessness takes a self-destructive turn.

Notice how nations are willing to corrupt and bully other nations into gaining an advantage and dominating. They conveniently eradicate other ethnic groups and fight neighbors considered threats. Observe how U.S. politics is tearing apart the country, and the competing parties play an “all or nothing” gambit for power and dominance; how politicians employ Machiavellian tactics at the expense of people and country to gain power.

“The delirious quest for power and dominance renders man blind and treats others as enemies. In the end, it will destroy man for failing to see his image among his fellowmen.”

There are no more qualms to making blatant lies, sacrificing human lives, and stealing in the service of an ideology. Whatever happened to having a moral compass, reasonable and respectful debates, moderation, and striking a harmonious balance? What does inciting rhetoric accomplish except to awaken man’s primitive drive to find another man, his adversary, his competitor for a place under the sun?

The delirious quest for power and dominance renders man blind and treats others as enemies. In the end, it will destroy man for failing to see his image among his fellowmen.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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