Shadow Of Apes

Andre Philippe Laisney
4 min readJan 2, 2023
Photo by Rishi Ragunathan on Unsplash

“Conscience doth make cowards of us all”- W. Shakespeare

As far as I can tell, conscience is a relatively new feature of life on earth. I am not sure that everything serves a purpose, as such, but it seems fairly clear to me that conscience serves as some sort of instinctive restraint upon beings which have the capacity to do great harm. There seems to be a very practical wisdom to endowing human beings with a conscience; of whispering the proper set of rules to a being that would not know how to behave otherwise. Conscience keeps the threat on a leash and, I can only surmise that on the leash we will stay, until we learn the proper rules for ourselves. It is not good to be kept on A leash. It makes us fearful things, and fearful things are merely the shadow of the potential of what they could become.

Some people don’t believe in “right and wrong”, but for beings with the capacity to end all life on earth, right and wrong are real things. Only if and when we learn right from wrong will we ever be free from the enemy within. Until then we will remain ignorant and confused, powerful but contained.

I don’t know why “nature” gave us power before giving us the wisdom to use our power wisely, but I can guess that that is simply how wisdom grows, from the seed of potential, and by trial and error. There is little doubt in my mind that if there really is a so called “great filter” which resists the spread of life throughout the cosmos, then the combination of power and ignorance is, at least, a significant part of that filter.

Terrestrial life is no “flash in the pan”. Our “tree of life” is already billions of years old. Perhaps some random cold-blooded agent of chaos could put an early end to life on earth for no good reason at all, but I don’t think so. At least I don’t think that such an actor could commit such a deed unless that agent happened to be an insider.

Some say that “humanity” is “its own worst enemy”, and I am sure that can be true at times, but I think that the potentially self-defeating enemy within is not really humanity itself but merely a certain amount of dangerous ignorance. I think that there may well be real danger in the world, but I think that the only danger worth worrying about is the danger we may unconsciously bring upon ourselves.