September 1, 2014

ZHA | White Collared Beast

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By DAVID ZHA

I’m sick of people judging criminals to be lesser than themselves.

What drives a crook to rob a liquor store? What makes a gangbanger start a turf war?

Common answers range from insincere heart-bleeding cries of “socioeconomic injustice” to uncompassionate soulless accusations of “moral depravity.” It’s simpler than that.

People are animals. Even you. We did not get to our current comfortably complacent position on Earth by playing nice. We had to out-claw and outsmart our way there. We had to put survival first and all the frivolous B.S. second.

The wealth disparity that covers this country like a smallpox blanket is what forces people to set aside that curiously inherent human morality for darker methods of survival. But circumstances only exacerbate a root motivation; the drive was there to begin with.

It is this drive that all living creatures in this world share. The drive to survive. The voice that says “Me, Me, Me.” The desire to look after our own. The will to take from everybody else.

Grim, killer animal instinct.

I see it manifest itself in every corner of our society. I see people listen to it every day.

When you talk shit about Becky’s absurd new haircut to your mutual girlfriends at lunch and passionately discuss the subtle nuances of her ugliness.

When you shoot the scrawny guy at the gym a contemptuous glare right before crushing another set on the bench and letting out a grunt perfectly balanced between “actual strain” and “raw manliness.”

When you compliment Becky on her outrageous outfit the next day in front of everybody with just enough sincerity to make it convincing and just enough edge to get a few snickers.

When you boast to a crowd of strangers about how adventurous your life is and feel like king of the bar for those glorious 10 minutes.

When you are jealous of that king of the bar and sulk quietly, plotting his doom, watching the girls flock to him.

When you rat on your coworker after discovering he’s been masturbating into the coffee pot because he was next in line for that promotion you wanted. And because he just gives you the creeps.

This negative will … it’s in all of us. Some humans live in corners of the Earth where daily survival involves brutality. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of these not-so-nice places where people die every day, where boys kill men with AK-47s and little girls are butchered by maniacs.

Just because there are men and women out there willing to commit such atrocities doesn’t make them any worse than you or me. It doesn’t disqualify them from the right to love and be loved.  Whether they chose to or were forced into it, they have attuned themselves to the darker side of human nature, the primal bestial side where we stow away the ugly truth.

When you see a criminal on TV gunning people down for monetary gain, or just because he is some sick-o who enjoys the suffering of others, pause before you separate yourself from him. You are, in fact, of the same genus. You do, in fact, have that same violent capacity within you.

But it’s been smothered, stifled, suffocated by a prim, straight-laced veneer of civility.  Flight equates to diving into your smartphone.  Fight equates to talking shit under your breath.

If you are reading this, you are probably lucky enough to live in a relatively stable part of the world where our animal negativity is held in check. Our aggression is cowed into submission by the law and our fear is tempered by H.R.’s annual “Acceptance in the Workplace” office meeting (FREE DONUTS).

There’s a beast inside you.  It’s just chained by a white collar.  Remember to take it out for a walk every once in a while.

And try not to kill anybody.

David Zha is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at dzha@cornellsun.com. The Angry Spirit Bear appears alternate Tuesdays this semester.

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