The Purge, or How I Stopped Murdering and Loved Civilization [Warning: Caps Lock Abuse Ahead]

Hi folks, it’s been a while. Let’s watch this trailer together:

[I’ll give you a moment to let that soak in, think about it, take a bathroom break…]

Back? All settled in with your tea/soda/lager/drink-of-choice? Good. Let’s begin.

JESUS W. CHRIST. IF I HEAR ANOTHER WORD ABOUT HOW TERRIBLE HUMANITY IS, I’M GOING TO- I’M GOING TO- sit at my computer and tell the handful of you who read this blog how wrong it is.

Truly though, it is annoying seeing depictions and hearing accounts of how ugly and evil human nature is. AND DON’T YOU DARE TELL ME IT’S TRUE. (Not until after I’ve stated my case, of course. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments all you like.) The mere concept of “evil” is ridiculous. It’s man-made. There is no such thing as “good” and “evil.” These are concepts people long, long, long, long ago came up with to try to make sense of things that happen, to try to justify further actions. And at the most general, these concepts do help. However, it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel – in this case, the wheel is natural selection.

Natural selection, most simply, is this: whatever works continues.

If people had a natural instinct to just kill each other off, we never would have survived this far. If people had a natural instinct to avoid other people at all costs, to never share food, to go on a murderous rampage everyday, homo sapiens would have become extinct eons ago. We wouldn’t have stood a chance against natural selection.

Which is why portrayals of humanity as bloodthirsty, solely selfish, xenophobic morons grind my rustily churning cogs and gears. And this pessimistic view has existed for a long time. You can look back to Hobbes and the overused “nasty, brutish, and short” idea of our ancestors and even Rousseau, who got it less wrong than Hobbes, but still fell for the view of original man as a loner. WE ARE NOT LONERS. WE ARE SUPER SOCIAL ANIMALS. Everyday is a party for homo sapiens. Even introverts like me need people. We might not want to be around people 24/7, but we need community and a healthy support system just like everyone else.

But it’s the quiet ones you gotta look out for. Do you know why the “quiet ones” crack and do terrible things such as shoot up schools and theaters? Because they are ALONE. In our individualistic, capitalist society, we are all alone. They don’t blow places and people up because it’s in their inner nature to do so; they do it because that is what our society molded them to be. If you have fallen under the impression that humanity is shit because of the existence of suicide bombers, school shooters, and terrorists, it is because you do not realize that THESE ARE THE EXCEPTIONS, NOT THE NORM. The reason why violence is so sensational is because it ISN’T NORMAL. For every person who bombs a marathon, hundreds of people rush in to aid the victims.

Why? Is it because we’re monsters, who would happily kill others if given the chance? HELLS TO THE NO.

It’s because we are social, compassionate animals, who – like all other generally successful animals – want to keep our species alive, even if we are not conscious of it. Sometimes this is hard to see. Sometimes it is hard to sift through the bullshit that the media and the powers-that-be play before our eyes and shove down our throats. They want you to think that without corporations and stricter government, we’d all be evil animals that would turn on one another in a heart beat. [The only thing preventing people from killing and stealing are laws, of course!] They want you to forget that it’s because they control the food supply, the security, and the wealth that we sometimes resort to acts of desperation to be released from our suffocation. It is hard to see what humans are like in nature because we have fought so hard to be distinct from nature. The narrative we are fed is the one where humans are not at the top of the food chain, but that we are transcendent of it (or some such nonsense). This is where the conflict and dissonance arise from.

We are animals. We are not murderous. We are not evil. We are simply animals. And all we want is to continue living, satisfied and fulfilled.

In summation, at the time of my writing this, the movie The Purge hasn’t been released, so I haven’t seen it. Maybe the message of the movie really is that humanity isn’t so bad. Who knows? I don’t know, but if you see the movie I’d actually like to hear what you think of it. The trailer just triggered that whole response up there, but we all know that trailers can be terribly misleading. Thank you for reading this far and I promise I will return to the lighter stressful college stuff soon.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear what you think, even if you disagree – especially if you disagree – because I really want to explore this issue in depth. 

In related thingymajigs:

Knitting Circles: What the Hell?

I’m sitting at a Starbucks on an average day in the Pacific Northwest, waiting for my next class to start. The ominous monocloud has returned, looming over the plaza. I’m wigging out and it has nothing to do with the weather. This is normal meteorological phenomena. It’ll probably be cloudless and sunny tomorrow.

The real reason why I’m wigging out is because of them.

There’s a knitting club seated in the comfy chairs across from and around me. They’re knitting (indeed) and chattering and laughing and just being loud. To be honest, they’re not that much louder than the surrounding din of Starbuckers, but something about these women are inordinately grinding my gears.

What is it?

I’m still trying to figure it out.

On one level, they remind me of the suburban housewife-y lifestyle that I am trying to dodge for my future. The idea of spending the rest of my life flitting from mundane activity to mundane activity terrifies me. That’s not a joke. Living in the suburbs attending to a breadwinning hubby and 2.06 children, while going to mommy clubs ain’t this gal’s idea of a happily ever after. (Not that this girl believes in “happily ever afters,” but excuse my jadedness.) Back to the knitters – they were irritating the hell out of me. Can’t a girl read in peace at a busy metropolitan Starbucks? I mean, really.

However! Yes, there is a “however” to this tale.

The true reason why this little social gathering was bothering me so much – this took me a while to see – was because they were just that: social. Flabbergasted, my conscious mind huffed and puffed up her chest. What? What does that mean?

Subconscious: It means you’re a social retard.

Conscious: Hey, that ain’t very PC to say. And all right, I may be relatively introverted, but I can hold my own in social situations.

Subconscious: But when was the last time you voluntarily attended one of these so-called “social situations”? Sitting around in the student government office eavesdropping on people doesn’t count.

Conscious: *sputters* Well, I never… There was that one time with the people at the place… with the stuff…

Subconscious: Admit it. You’re socially retarded.

Conscious: I am not. I’m fine just the way I am.

Subconscious: I didn’t say you weren’t fine. You’re just socially inept. You’re uncomfortable with socializing and pretend to be above all that small-talk-chitter-chatter. It’s a defense mechanism. Stop being in denial.

Conscious: I am not in denial!

Subconscious: …

Conscious: That’s not fair.

Subconscious: Admit it. And then write a blog post about it.

Conscious: Screw you.

Subconscious: And stop pretending that guy sitting off to the side in the green and grey argyle isn’t cute.

Conscious: Goddammit, you’re right. I- Hey! Stop it!

The main point is that I’ve come to realize the reason why I disdain many social gatherings is because I feel left out. It’s not even that people around me don’t like me (for the most part). A lot of the time, it’s just me sabotaging myself, making excuses about why I can’t or shouldn’t participate. The irritation I feel when I witness events like knitting circles is not superiority – it’s inferiority. The pride in being lonely and supposedly self-sufficient is nothing more than a defense mechanism. Instead of fixing my loneliness by reaching out and being social, I’ve developed a way of shrinking back into myself and shunning everyone else. It’s like being the fox in the Aesop’s fable of the sour grapes. I can’t reach the grapes, so they must be sour and bad anyway.

But what’s so sour about them? The knitting circle is a group of women, who come together to chat and unite in something they all enjoy doing. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing. It’s perfectly fine. It should be refreshing to see hints of communal interaction in our society of individualism and solitude. Isn’t it funny how we’ve been virtually trained to laugh at super nerd herds [see: Big Bang Theory] and appraise the self-serving, self-made man [see: any top dog CEO]? Community is community – barring hate groups (I’m lookin’ at you Westboro Baptist Church) – and we need to encourage people to band together, not disparage it. This is something I’m slowly, but surely working on.

We need to stop yucking their yums and get over ourselves:

What yums do you yuck? What yums of yours do other people yuck? Are you more of a social butterfly or a reclusive hermit crab? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!