No matter how much a man achieves in terms of science, technology, medicine or civilization; he has always been in need of looking back in the past. No matter how much he thinks he has given the world in terms of development and basic necessities he still feels incomplete. A part of him is missing and thus he always looks back; opens the half torn, half forgotten pages from the chapters of history. Questions about his existence and mortality always haunt him. Thus he directs himself back to his roots. Roots. That is what we all quest for.
Our identity, answers to some twisted puzzling questions and discovery of truth always belongs to roots. Thus starts a civilized, educated and polished man’s hunt for several countless queries. He sets himself on the road that according to him would lead him out of the maze he has lost himself into. He untangles himself from the chains of society and like an Olympics’ athlete starts running on the road that promises a lot but leaves him tired, out of breath and full of doubts.
He wants to learn all about his ancestors, their lives, their experiences and the world before him intrigues him. He wants to go back in time and see for himself what his species used to do. No wonder how much we love watching all those science fiction movies about time machine so often!
Man has travelled a long journey from savage being to a civilized being. In a way he deceived his counterparts and achieved for himself a distinctive place in the world. Having done that he made zoos and now the animal rights activists promote safari parks for the freedom of his counterpart. But he never forgot them did he? Just as he began chaining himself in the fashion of being civilized he also set apart a place for the still uncouth, uncivilized, brainless animals. He put them in cages, placed a ticket on them and told everyone to come and watch these species who have achieved nothing for themselves. One would ask then why does man spare the kingdom of jungle. The life of jungle is something that still fascinates man. It reminds him of how he is from within; uncouth, barbaric, always striving to win the survival of the fittest battle. Rousseau a philosopher and literary figure held the thesis that man and the civil society stand in contradiction to each other. He believed in the natural goodness of man, the savage noble. ‘Savage noble’ is contradictory in itself. But that was his point. At least man was what he was. As long as he was unaware and oblivious of the modern jargon devised by his own ‘genius intellect’ he was a savage. he knew that and that realization made him noble. Thus the term savage noble. The society has plagued the genuine man; it has torn away the state of nature from him.
Today man has built a society on the foundations of justice, equality and honesty believing he has managed to leave behind the life of savageness. But as soon as he laid down those foundations he forgot all about them. Today we all talk about rights and equality and freedom. But as Rousseau’s adage goes ‘man was born free but everywhere he is in shackles.” Today a woman coming from an apparently educated and a well off family is seen out in streets protesting for the rights of women who are the victims of inequality. However, would this woman one day be able to accept the same poor and uneducated person stand equal to her? No matter how much we pretend to be fighting for the rights of others, there lingers a fear in us, a complex. Thus this educated woman would always want her subject to work for her as a maid but never her equal. There is a fear that her subject would begin to know more than she does and might one day take over. This is feudalism in a different light.
No matter how many face packs a woman applies and no matter how much a man dresses himself up, he would still be the savage from inside. We can hide the dirt of our bodies and the smell of barbarism by the clothes that glitter and cologne that makes you smell heavenly but you can never wash away that dirt. Just like Lady Macbeth failed to wash the blood off her hands. The guilt persists.
So aptly did Bano Qudsiya say that we are all like vultures, a bird of prey who feed upon the dead. There is some selfish delight in taking possession of our counterparts as mere subjects and then feed upon them like the vulture full of greed. The greed of self preservation, to sustain oneself man has tried hard to conceal his nature. And my limited knowledge exhausts me here. However one other point springs from all this contemplation; what factor drives man to do certain actions? Is it the biological, instinctual foundations or is it the influence of the society?
The savage man and his rawness still resides somewhere deep inside him. The only difference is that the reflection we look at in the mirror is the new us, the polished and civilized beings. We take pride and indulge in vanity little realizing that perhaps civilization is just a hoax.
What perhaps Rousseau failed to understand was that it doesn’t really matter if man stays in the state of nature or goes on to achieve civilization. Both are the extreme ways after all.