The Greatest Threat to the Human Species

Picture a Mother and her six-year-old son. The boy did not clean his room so his Mom put all of his toys away as punishment. The boy is upset and goes into a tantrum. The Mother relents and allows her Son access to his toys.

The boy did not need the toys. He wanted the toys. When the Mother gave into his screams and demands he learned he could manipulate his Mother to get his way. The Mother could have remained stoic against her Son’s protestations but she gave in.

Throughout life a human being has needs – food, clothing, shelter. Anything beyond the basic staples of life is based on want and desire.

In Buddhism, it is taught that wants and desires are natural for humans. Wants and desires have yielded a great many wonderful things for our species by those who were driven by those very attributes. The Curie’s gave us an understanding of radium and how it could be used to benefit humans. Henry Ford had a fervent desire to build a horseless carriage. Ancient Greeks had a curiosity about our world giving us mathematical advances that would help generations to come.

But Buddhism also teaches that wants and desires that could harbor harmful results were to be held in check – to be controlled by the individual. The Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity do the same. The extremely basic rules of “Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not bear false witness”; were meant to put roadblocks against wants and desires by one being resulting in harm to another.

Early laws coming from the very first civilizations were a means to control or punish those whose wants and desires brought harm to others. Today the myriad of laws in our nation and around the world does the same.

When wants and desires, not the basic needs of life, are given attention by any one individual, as opposed to being controlled and suppressed, it can result in rape, physical assault and even murder. When a human being cannot control his or her wants and desires mayhem usually results.

The harm can multiply tenfold when groups of people act upon wants and desires. While there is absolutely no need for Israel to be wiped off the map by Iran, the leaders of that country certainly espouse that their desire to eradicate Israel is fostered and taught.

While Hitler had no need to conquer Russia or Eastern Europe it was indeed his desire to do so and he acted upon that desire by selling his desire to the German people. China has no need to place military installations far into the China Sea but is doing so out of a desire to push China’s influence beyond China’s borders.

Even the Vikings many years ago had a need to survive when their native lands seemed unable to support their expanding population. They had no need to go to the shores of England and take from the people of England. Instead they could have approached the English asking to be taught how to domesticate animals and grains for their survival. But the Viking leaders gave them the want and desire to conquer – taking the fruits of their labors, their womenfolk and killing the men.

Individually a single human being giving in to wants and desires can bring great tragedy, such as a suicide bomber or the young man killing scores of people at an Orlando nightclub.

When leaders of people encourage masses of humans to act upon their wants and desires the harm is greatly magnified. That has lead to wars with countless millions suffering and dying as a result. Those who follow that encouragement are simply tools being used by a single individual or a small group of people who see them as soldiers carrying out their bidding.

Such encouragement for people to throw tantrums on behalf of what an individual or small group of people desire is very prevalent today. You see it in Europe where Muslims did not assimilate as was desired by those who opened their hearts and doors to Migrants.

You see it in China and Russia where leadership takes an ever-increasing adversarial posture against the West. You see it in American politics where certain groups can instill the desire to throw tantrums on behalf of those who only see them as “useful idiots” to act on their behalf.

When someone of a specific opinion can arouse the wants and desires of large numbers of people, it can result in burned police cars, broken windows, looting and burning. Did the perpetrators NEED to be destructive – or did their WANT to be destructive guide their behavior?

Uncontrolled wants and desires have always meant harm and tragedy. From the drug addict killing and robbing at a convenience store to the unleashing of ISIS by radical Muslims – it was never based on need. Did Cain kill Abel out of jealousy with a rock or club? The harnessing of gunpowder and now the atom will not only kill one person at a time – but millions, perhaps billions.

The basic needs for survival can make people take drastic measures just to survive. The wants and desires by those who cannot control those traits is always at the heart of disaster, whether by individual or nations.

When the Mother allows the six-year-old to get his way by acting out she is quite possibly creating an individual who will have unpleasant encounters with law enforcement later in life. Should that child learn as an adult to manipulate others to do his bidding – to satisfy his wants and desires – calamity may envelop entire nations – or even the world.