All posts by Kaelin

Summer Reading: “Why Are We Cruel?” by Roger Ebert

                 Why Are We Cruel? by Roger Ebert Uses Art, such as the movie “Tatian The Mill and The Cross” and “The Fall of Icarus” to examine why humans are cruel?’ And ‘why are humans able to distance themselves from cruelty?’ Our worlds current capitalistic society tends to breed selfishness. Though, this example of cruelty for gain. Similar to Hebert’s reference to killing in nature, it is “usually for food, dominant or territory.” Our common day interaction of malice intention aligns with this in biological and societal standards of action. Unlike animals, humans’ infliction of suffering is less direct. We can desensitize and not observe the harm we indirectly caused. Humans’ narcissistic tendencies and ability to reason allows us to make huge differentiation within our species. We separate ourselves into groups. ‘It wasn’t my country; it wasn’t my race, it wasn’t my family, it wasn’t me.’ This differentiation can vary drastically in size, but this detachment allows for individuals to separate themselves from others doings, excusing others actions in the hopes to protect their own sense of empathy and ego. Socially authorizing them to go “about their daily affairs, most (…) unaware of the great event that is taking place.” As for why individuals are cruel without an obvious gain and excluding the dampening pressures “of an army, a gang or a mob….” I am unsure. The differentiation between death and suffering is what I would consider the defining difference between man and animal. Particularly the concern of “…why suffering is so often considered to be necessary before death.” This is where I think there’s a difference between the commonality of human’s malicious intentions and cruelty. The intent of seeking revenge, protecting oneself or others, political or economic gain, when suffering is caused with those intentions, though no less excusable, there is a slight sense of reason. Humans’ ability to reason allows us to question what we consider unanswerable: death. This question leads the tone to most people’s lives, and whether truth is reachable is unknown but poses the larger question of what problems it solves or creates. Whether you are religious or not, the end remains a question. My only reasoning around this necessary suffering before death is that it is our last taste of humanity. Consider suffering before death a final moment to embrace the torment of life; humanity. Because no matter the anguish experienced, it is nothing compared to the endless void that awaits.