Sand Castles… and the Fascination with Destruction

From the time I was very small, when the opportunity arose, I built sand castles, and always just above the wave line of the ocean. And always, eventually, they succumbed to the tides and the water… as I knew they would, even as I built them to attempt to withstand the oncoming water as well as possible. Occasionally, I just happened to build one at high tide and above the high water mark, yet, invariably, if I came back to look at it the next morning, someone had always stomped it flat. Over all the years… and on all the beaches, those that the water didn’t get, humans did.

Then there are the hunters, and there are essentially two kinds, those who like or need the meat and hides and use most or all of the animal and those who trophy hunt. I understand and respect the first type, but I don’t respect or really understand trophy hunting. It’s a form of destruction to prove that the hunter can do it. To me, that’s a lose-lose game. After a million years of evolution and sophisticated tool-making, if you can’t eventually kill an animal that has no high-powered weapons, no clothing to conceal itself better than natural camouflage, and no concentrated food-stuffs to allow itself to hunt [or evade hunters] continuously, you’ve wasted your evolution. And if you do kill the animal, it’s dead, and you really don’t have any use for it, except to prove that you’re not a failure. Destruction to prove you’re not a failure? But isn’t that failing?

One of the latest aspects of destruction to prove one isn’t a failure seems to be the hackers, or whatever the latest term is for individuals who go to great lengths to invade and destroy other people’s computers and networks. Exactly what’s the point? Destruction is far, far easier than construction. Look at all the effort it takes to develop the hardware and software for computers and networks, and with a bit of skill and cleverness, or theft of codes and ideas, millions of computers get crashed. Again… for what? To prove that you can destroy something? To ruin people’s work and lives? To cost them time and money?

I’ve always wondered why so many human beings have such a fascination with destruction. Is it instinctual on some primal level to want to destroy anything anyone else built? Is it an instinct to prove one is stronger by destroying someone else or their creation?

One could argue that destruction forces greater achievement by the doers. It does, but so much of that “achievement” is wasteful. How much in resources do societies spend on security? On multiple levels of computer systems? On home-security systems? On guards and police?

To me, willful destruction is the mark of the second-rater, or of the failure. Those who can’t build, or who don’t respect those who do, resort to destruction, character-assassination, back-biting, and all the lesser forms of destruction.

Compared to creation and building, destruction is easy… and, one way or another, all the rest of us pay for it.