The animal within us

I turned on the tv the other day, waiting for a favourite programme to come on and I caught the tail end of some other programme. It was an interview type thing and the guy being interviewed was some scientist, an ecologist, a behavioural scientist or something like that (sorry, can remember neither his name nor the tv show). He was comparing and contrasting human behaviour and motivations with those of animals and how, in some aspects, we are very much like chimpanzees, yet in others we are more like more "primitive" animals than the chimps. Several things that came out in the 5 mins or so that I saw (with my own added comments):

1) Man's tendency to undergo periodic attempts at genocide (the Nazi's, Rwanda, Yugoslavia etc) seems to be "genetically" bred into the species. The guy claimed that people "naturally" see other types (eg races) as animals and treat them as such, that such behavious was very common amongst animals, and not just monkeys and the like.

2) People appear to have imprinted in their minds what their ideal mate would look like (physically), and this imprinting is modelled on their parent of the opposite sex, or an elder sibling of the opposite sex. Thus men are attracted to women who look like their mothers and girls are attracted to people who look like dad. Well, that's certainly a well established idea, and it's not unique with humans, it's almost universal in the animal kingdom, the imprinting of the ideal mate. Incidently, comparison of successful partnerships with unsuccessful ones (divorce etc) indicates that the latter tend to be those where the spouse does not resemble the paterned parent.

3) genocide and destruction of the envoironment are not just faults of modern man, nor even ancient man, but are common to most, if not all, species of animals. Until or unless we can overcome this biological drive(s), we will never get rid of environmental destruction, genocide and persecution of the different. It's not a social or cultural problem (treatable with social or cultural cures), it's a biological one. "We" do those things simply because we are what we are. The drive is possibly related to Darwin's "survival of the fittest", where, in nature, survival means producing more offspring and/or eliminating the offspring of others.

As for destruction of the environment, that's not a modern day problem as I mentioned. Many civilisations in the past have travelled the same root and foud their end as a result of their destruction of their environment. The concept of the noble savage, at harmony with his/her environment is a myth. The deserts of Iraq once housed a fertile and rich land, the birthplace of civilisation. Now desert and arid sand. Many american civilisations collapsed in the midst of environmental destruction. The list is long. But not just man. Many animals do the same thing. Elephants are particularly noted for that. Nature is not a matter of balance and harmony, it's more a matter of conflicting powers/forces stalemateing each other. It's not the "brave new order", it's the "cold war".

It would seem that despite all our civilisation, all our culture, our sceicne and technology, our philosophy, our religion, at the core we have progressed no further than our animal kin. Our drives, our inner motives are the same. We are still animals under our clothes.

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