Sunday, 25 May 2008

Neither High Nor Mighty

It can come as an unpleasant shock when we are reminded how instinctively destructive we are, when the urge hits us. Or at least we like to tell ourselves it’s a shock.

The Big Issue vendor is across the university driveway talking companionably to the security guard. His carefully positioned magazines with the neat stacks of gold coins are completely unattended and unobserved.

I like to think of myself as a ‘nice’ person, conscientious, honest, kind to small children and the elderly (no matter how bigoted the old dears are), so why am I suddenly so strongly compelled to grab the top-most magazine and tear it free? To hear the stacks of coins strike the ground in a clatter like metallic rain drops as I turn heel and run. I mean, why? The man hasn’t done anything to me, he’s trying to get back on his feet.

So why this vivid image of myself kicking him while he’s down?

Because I could.

Because I can imagine the look on his face and I know what it means.


For a moment you are vulnerable and I can strike like the opportunistic predator that I am.

For a moment I am strong and you are weak.

It’s the primal in us. The aspiring alpha. The pack animal scrabbling up the pecking order over a pile of dominated and subjugated rivals.

Despite the fact that in the population of today, your place in the order of things means almost nothing. There are too many layers for most of us to ever achieve more than a local dominance. It’s all pointless but still it persists; a vestigial instinct that is hard-wired into us, a drive that remains despite our most noble ambitions. Either that or I’m subconsciously an enormous dick.

Eh, it’s probably 50/50.

It’s not like I actually did it but still… it’s the siren call of the destructive.

The dirty little thrill that you try to deny you felt at the mere concept.

That’s why it’s not likely to fade away any time soon.

We won’t let it.

We don’t want to relinquish the rush.

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