"Civilised Man Is Only One Step Removed From Being A Savage."

1328 words - 5 pages

What is civility? What is a 'civilised man'? And what, may we ask, is a 'savage'?Civility is nothing more than an unintentional by-product of human sentience. It is a collection of rules and routines, both written and unwritten (differing from one culture to another) which human society adopts in order to establish and maintain a defining identity to which many of the individual members' desire to conform, in aid of establishing and maintaining a sense of belonging within their society. However, the concept of civility becomes a virtually meaningless one if it is not accepted (or understood) and its dictates are not followed. Therefore a 'civilised man' is one that believes in and holds to the dictates of the socially accepted definition of civility. These societal definitions are plentiful and varied, whether it be the etiquette associated with eating (for example, the correct use- or misuse- of cutlery), the action of wearing clothes or the correct form of address for elders. There is no single step to remove civility or to descend into savagery, for, to remove the beliefs of a person is akin to removing the person's character - an incredibly powerful and complex action.Those objects or creatures that are considered 'savage' are of an "uncultivated, untamed, wild, uncivilised … fierce, brutal [&] cruel"¹ disposition and savage, as a concept, is one of an violent, wild individual. This definition conjures visions of a violent, destructive being bent on dominating or destroying (much like King Kong - pre-Ann Darrow) anything in its path.However if you consider a 'savage' to be someone who has simply had the veneer of civility removed (with scissors, perhaps?) then the situation is quite different. If a savage, the supposed antithesis to civility, is a person who follows only the basic human instincts, to eat, to sleep and to procreate then what be the 'civilised man'? An insomniac, anorexic priest?What is there to turn a 'civilised' man 'savage'? Take away his clothing, his cutlery, his house, and what do you have? Not a killing machine. Not a man without rules or beliefs. You have a naked, homeless man with a distinct lack of teaspoons, who still understands and conforms (as far as is possible) to social standards. Take away his food supply and what do you have? A vicious cannibal? No. You have a desperate man, a resourceful man. But not a cannibal! Why is this? It is because he still has, deep in his psyche, the notion of civility - the deeply ingrained belief in the social framework - which no single step can remove.A 'civilised' person must have a motive to resort to savagery. The motive can be as simple as the need for sustenance beyond the means of civilisation to provide (which will drive an individual to savagery through appellation to one of the three basic governing instincts mentioned above - the instinct to eat, to sustain himself). To fulfil this need, to provide himself with the protein his body requires, he must...

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