Chapter 24 Excuses And Motives
What Wen Jiubo said was reasonable. It was indeed the truth.
“Perhaps this is just a saying?” I tried to explain. “It’s used by people to describe the harshness of life or the difficult situations they have been through…”
“It’s just an exaggeration, is that what you’re trying to say?”
“That’s why I said, that logic is wrong.” Wen Jiubo sighed with his arms crossed.
I was even more confused. “How? I don’t think so.”
“According to you, people will have no money and won’t be able to feed themselves if they don’t work. So that is to say, people work due to the fact that they need money?”
“Isn’t that the case?”
“No, it’s not true,” Wen Jiubo said with certainty. “In the beginning, people started to feel the need to work, and then as society developed and progressed, they started to see the benefits of money and desire it.”
I was even more puzzled, stammering, “Is, is that so?”
“Of course, it is. Although ‘job’ is something exclusive for human beings, it is essentially a way to make a living, which is no different from the hunting behavior of wild animals. At first, human beings also hunted for food, but later on, people living in the central plains gradually discovered that they could feed themselves by planting grain and raising livestock instead of hunting. Farming and stockbreeding were much safer and easier than hunting, and they were sustainable, there would be no need to worry about food. Therefore, people invented ‘jobs’. Afterward, with the gradual expansion of tribes or clans, the well-fed ‘rich’ people became lazy. They didn’t need to worry about food and clothing, but they still wanted to produce more food, as a result, they began to employ people to work for them. Due to this reason, society then classified the rich as the ones who had enough food and the poor as the ones who were lacking food. The poor could work for the rich to get food, and then the concept of needing to work in order to eat appeared, right?”
I nodded, primitive society… was probably like this.
“However, in fact, this concept is kind of an illusion. If poor people need to work hard in order to provide for their family, then what about those who are already rich and don’t need to work to provide for every member of the family?” Wen Jiubo pointed out. “Like your family, or your friend’s family. For such families, why do so many members of those families still feel the need to work hard?”
I gradually understood what Wen Jiubo was trying to say after he explained. “This is because if you don’t work hard, you will lose your job, and if you lose your job… although you won’t starve to death, life won’t be as good as it once was.”
“Is that so?” Though it was a question, his tone suggested that it was an unquestionable fact. “Rather than saying people work hard in order to survive, it would be more accurate to say they work hard in order to not feel inferior to others, to maintain their present quality of life and if possible, have an even better one. Even among poor people, there is still competition between neighbors when it comes to wealth. That’s what I’m trying to say: this concept is an excuse rather than a reason.”
“What excuse, what reason?” I asked confusedly.
“People have no food if they don’t work, this is just an excuse,” Wen Jiubo said calmly. “It’s just a kind and non-aggressive excuse for human beings to hide their ambitions. You mentioned earlier that if I didn’t work as an exorcist, I would be out of money. This is a fact, but for me, the most important thing is this job, or I should say, this kind of life. Money is just a byproduct. I picked my job, not the other way around.”
It was indeed true, Wen Jiubo was different from ordinary people. What others dreamed of was just a byproduct to him.
“Similarly, killing people is the same,” Wen Jiubo said at a measured, slow pace.
“What does this have anything to do with killing people?”
“The motive for murder is only an excuse that people create afterward,” Wen Jiubo said something jaw-dropping but he acted as if it was no big deal.
“Excu——” I didn’t know how to reply for a moment as I thought he was out of his mind. “The motive behind a murder is just an excuse? How is it possible? Even if——”
“It’s an excuse,” Wen Jiubo interrupted me before I could continue with my limited vocabulary. He repeated firmly, “The so-called motives behind a murder were made up in order to rationalize the murder cases which were hard to believe.”
“Killing another person appears to be unbelievable, doesn’t it?” I was dumbfounded. Wen Jiubo looked at me and said calmly, “Murder is against law and morality. The law punishes the murderer, while morality condemns him. From the perspective of society, murder is killing another human being. If there was no punishment, it would be total chaos. So no society would encourage the act of murdering someone, am I correct?”
I nodded. “Of course. Murder is forbidden in every country.”
“Nonetheless, wars exist,” Wen Jiubo said as if he was muttering.
“Ah? But, wars are totally different, it is for the country…”
“Gu Yu, what if you try to think about it from my viewpoint?” Wen Jiubo interrupted me and asked. “What if you look at the human race from a non-human perspective? What conclusion will you draw from observing their history and behavior for thousands of years?”
I was dumbfounded. I had this horrible idea in my mind that I could not voice out.
Yet Wen Jiubo said it for me, “That is, human beings have been killing each other for thousands of years, right?”
I couldn’t reply. He was right.
“Killing people is illegal, but during those chaotic years, killing was actually encouraged by the governments no matter how many people were killed, wasn’t it? Therefore, ‘murder is a crime’ is also a false belief, just like work is equal to earning money, it’s a big misunderstanding.”
I was speechless. I felt that after hearing his radical opinions, my views on the world, life, and values were severely challenged.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that killing is a good thing, or that it should be encouraged. I’m just trying to show you how I see it.” Wen Jiubo shook his head. “After all, it’s a common rule in human society that murder is forbidden. If there were no human society, there would have been no such rules. But why is there a human society in the world? Many believe that it’s due to the human instinct of tolerating and supporting each other.”
“What else could it be?” I asked crossly.
“I didn’t say that. This is indeed the instinct of all social animals, but don’t forget, why are some animals social and others solitary by nature?”
I answered, “That’s because… generally, gregarious animals are physically weak and unable to resist the attack from their natural predators alone, so——”
“That’s right.” Wen Jiubo glanced at me, showing his agreement. He then said, “So, in the end, people support each other for their own benefit. Since they want to stay alive and avoid being eaten by their natural predators, humans choose to live in groups. That is to say——”
The light in his eyes sharpened. “The appearance of human society was due to their selfishness.”
I was speechless.
“Individual interests precede social interest. No matter what the government’s education says, this is the truth. Everyone is born selfish and born for his or her own benefits; it’s in our nature, which is pretty normal. Being ashamed of being selfish is actually influenced by social culture and moral standards.” Wen Jiubo went on, “Society is used to change how people think.”
“Change how we think?”
“Yes. In order to maintain society, there has to be someone who can abandon his or her own interests to safeguard the interests of the majority. Otherwise, society would not exist if everyone only cared about themselves,” Wen Jiubo explained. “Resultantly, the concept saying that ‘Humans are righteous by nature’ appeared during this process. Society teaches people that it’s good to help others, and murder, robbery, etc are evil. Thus, people gradually turn these rules into culture or ‘moral principles’ that must be followed during the development of human society. Therefore, the act of killing someone has become something unimaginable that society cannot tolerate.”
I gradually understood what Wen Jiubo tried to tell me, and deep down in my heart, it was utterly horrible.
Good and evil, were they never supposed to exist in the world?
Were they just lies told to the population to protect the idea of ‘human society’?
So murders… are evil deeds that would break the law of society, so they were banned everywhere. But was that the true reason?
“Because it’s unimaginable, people always find various reasons to explain it.” Wen Jiubo picked up the teapot and shook it again. It was empty this time. “There are all kinds of reasons, no matter how unreasonable. Crimes of passion, vendetta, neighborhood disputes, or deviation between superior and subordinate… The motives exist only to provide an excuse to maintain social order. But Gu Yu, you have to know, there is no reason to kill someone.”
Even though his argument was quite reasonable, I still wanted to try to refute.
“I know many murder cases happened due to PTSD or in self-defense. Your point of view may explain why there are crimes of passion, but there are some carefully planned murders…”