Why man has a habit of getting in his own way.
I’m sure we’ve all been there, if we’re being honest, that moment of realisation where you look yourself in the mirror and say to yourself: “It was you all along.”
Not your boss. Not your ex. Not the government.
There are many ways we can interpret the saying “creators of our own demise”, ranging from the level of the individual all the way up to species and planetary wide cosmic calamities. Humans are prone to self-destructive behaviours, self-sabotage, a disappearing act of personal agency (or a restricting/removal of someone else’s) along with a sense of being unwilling to admit where we’re wrong and/or causing harm to ourselves and others. With blame being so easy and convenient to externalise, and personal responsibility so unappealing and painful, small wonder it can go undetected for so long.
As I said, it can happen at so many levels, the self, our relationships, our workplaces, in industries/corporations/organisations/governments, all with potentially catastrophic and chronic consequences. I was only talking last week about things we’ve created that are leading to our demise – even things we’ve created to defend and preserve our life and those we love have had dire results. Obviously, there are many reasons why we create such things (other examples include cars, smoking, alcohol etc.), but we must also take heed that by trying to make things better we can actually make them worse.
“Ideas are often more powerful than things.”
I have thought for some time now that our desire to be safe, secure and certain will be our downfall – doesn’t matter whether it’s from harm/violence, from climate change/environment, from AI or whatever – the more insecure we feel, believe and think we are, the more we search and try to cling to security, and thus lose what it means to be human and to be alive. The human experience (as is increasingly evident now) is insecure and uncertain, resulting from our desire to be secure and certain. Such themes (and others) are explored in the “The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety” by Alan Watts written nearly 70 years ago.
Creating a safe environment and feeling safe aren’t quite the same thing. Primarily, because people can still for unsafe in a safe environment. This is down to our feelings, emotions and perceptions. The stronger your emotions the more likely you will feel it is real (reality/truth), but just because you feel strongly about something doesn’t make it right or make your argument strong. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be compassionate or empathetic, but our emotions affect the mind and can distort reality (and snowball effect), however, you will feel completely righteous – the more distorted our perceptions are the more certain we are our perceptions are correct, a conundrum.
Ah yes, the deniers, the I don't care I'm right type of people, completely justified in everything they do and can't/refuse to see things any other way. We all know someone like this, that no matter what, it is “only good" in what they do. These people are prime candidates to wreak havoc unbeknownst to them which ultimately leads to an unsatisfactory future for all involved. It’s almost like they’ve adopted a Conan the Barbarian style philosophy…
Ironically, they should be taking this onboard rather than saying it to others. Be that as it may, the prevalent and pervasive rise of narcissism is a contributory reason for the aforementioned behaviour. I feel the pendulum has swung too far from “you have to change to suit the world” (ruling with an iron fist) to “the world needs to change to suit me” which allows for no critical self-reflection and awareness, and the I’m always right types to flourish. Ergo, narcissists come out of the darkness like cockroaches when the lights come on, aided by the technological megaphone that is social media.
“Now, I can’t mention ‘creators’ and ‘demise’ without a nod to the king, Beelzebub himself, Satan, Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness (and all acceptable answers).”
The Devil, the manifestation of our inner tormentor, effectively. The man who didn’t wreck the buffet at the Harrow Club this morning, but the man that came to visit Ivan in The Brothers Karamazov (see chapters The Devil: Ivan’s Nightmare, and more indirectly, The Grand Inquisitor). Forgive me, I love Dostoevsky, man really does cut through the psyche of the human being. It is the battles within ourselves that are most likely to lead us to become the creators of our own demise.
We must learn to integrate the shadow side of our personalities, the not so pleasant side of ourselves, if you will. We need to learn from our past mistakes and become aware of how we might have affected our circumstances. We need to realise that harm done to us does not have to result in harming others (or ourselves further). We must tend to our psychological wounds and insecurities in a mature manner so as to not let these turn into anger, bitterness and resentment to the world and especially those we love.
“I’m trying to prevent people from jumping off metaphorical cliffs – they only know when they’ve hit the bottom that it’s too late. I just hope my voice reaches them in time.”