“The Cultivators’ claim to protect ordinary people is no different from the animal rights extremists’ obsession of cats and dogs. It is not because they are kinder, more righteous, and more merciful than others, but because of their selfishness.”
“Selfishness?” Li Yao stammered. “What selfishness?”
“In the Imperium of True Human Beings, there was a very famous sociologist and psychologist named Ma Tianluo, who proposed theory of the hierarchy of needs,” Tang Qianhe explained. “He pointed out that the lifelong needs of a human being, from bottom to top, can be divided into five levels, namely the physiological needs, the safety needs, the love and belonging needs, the esteem needs, and the needs for self-actualization.”
“The physiological needs and the safety needs are easy to understand. Warm, fed, comfortable, unharmed from enemies—they are desires that even animals will have.
“The love and belonging needs are not difficult to understand, either. Human beings are a gregarious species. One always hopes to be enveloped in love, friendship, romance, and all other positive feelings. Even saints cannot fully cut off their emotions.
“As for the esteem needs, if we get to the bottom of it, it means one’s yearning to be of a certain position in a society and to be acknowledged, respected, and even worshipped by others! Once such needs are met, one will feel confident and perceive the ‘value’ of one’s existence!
“The needs for self-actualization are the needs of the highest level. It refers to the maximal achievement of one’s dreams, ambitions, and creeds and the implementation of one’s belief!
“The Cultivators’ actions are very easy to understand if analyzed with Master Ma’s theory of the hierarchy of needs.
“The protection of ordinary people can satisfy the love and belonging needs of the Cultivators, make them revered and admired by the general public, and carry out their principles and beliefs! So, the three higher levels of needs in the hierarchy are met at the same time!
“To be honest, the Cultivators protecting ordinary people and receiving the cheers and applause from them are driven under the same ulterior motive as the ordinary people who raise a pet dog, establish a dog house, buy dog food, and even call the dog their family, for the sole purpose of the adoration of the pet.
“Are they particularly fond of little animals? Not at all. It is just a way to fill their empty heart!
“Otherwise, why are there much more people who raise cats and dogs than those who raise toads and cockroaches? If we get to the bottom of it, it’s only because cats and dogs are cuter and more personable. They bring a sense of gratification to the ordinary people, which is why the ordinary people keep them as pets. By the same logic, the ordinary people bring a sense of gratification to the Cultivators as high-level pets. So, the Cultivators protect the ordinary people!”
Having never heard of such absurdities, Li Yao failed to come up with any refutation for the moment.
Moreover, he did not dare show much resistance in case the three Immortal Cultivators grew suspicious of him. He could only agree with Tang Qianhe and said, “Well, that doesn’t seem too bad, right?
“Everybody is free to spoil their pets. There’s nothing wrong about that!”
Tang Qianhe harrumphed. With both despise and disgust, she said, “It’s a pity that, like the animal rights extremists, the Cultivators like to regard the satisfaction of their desire as their morals. They consider their own prejudice as the universal truth. They even interfere with other people’s perfectly normal behaviors!
“There are limited resources in the universe. Keeping ordinary people as pets will consume a lot more resources than keeping cats and dogs will. Also, the ordinary people are much more brutal than cats and dogs. One moment of carelessness, and they will bite you, forgetting what you’ve done for them!
“The Cultivators are all selfish, shortsighted fools. Out of their petty interests and their natural instincts, they can only see that ordinary people are poor here and now and need to be protected at all costs. They feel that they are being kind and merciful, but little do they know that they are causing a disaster in the long term, which will eventually lead to the overall collapse of the civilization of mankind!”
Li Yao frowned. “What disaster?”
“The civilization of mankind, like the ecological system in nature, is in fact both solid and feeble,” Tang Qianhe said carefully. “They are solid because the natural rules that they entail allow their self-adjustment and self-balance, and they can purge themselves and evolve under the restraint of the seemingly cruel rules. On the other hand, they are feeble because—once human beings, as the wisest of all creatures, grasp the ability to modify certain rules, and if they do modify them driven by their self-proclaimed leniency—the eventual collapse is almost unavoidable!
“Fellow Cultivator Li, you’ve heard of the ecological equilibrium before, haven’t you?”
Li Yao nodded.
“The ecological system of the great nature is a piece of balanced and impeccable artwork. Let’s imagine a prairie where there are a few wolves, hundreds of rabbits, and boundless fields of grass. Together, they constitute a simple ecological system.
“The rabbits feed on the grass, and the wolves feed on rabbits.
“The rabbits are lovely and can provoke anyone’s sense of pity.
“The wolves, on the other hand, are hideous and brutal, and it is quite gory when they hunt the rabbits!
“At first glance, it is very tempting to define rabbits as ‘good’ and wolves as ‘bad’.
“Then, one day, some omnipotent human beings arrive at the prairie. Seeing the bloody scenes where the wolves hunt the rabbits, and enjoying the bunnies cuddling them in their arms, the newcomers make up their minds to beat the bullies and help the poor. They kill and drive away all the wolves. The only creatures left are furry, chubby, gentle, lovely rabbits.
“Will the prairie be a paradise henceforth?
“Of course not!
“In less than a year, the rabbits, who are highly fertile and good at destroying the roots of the grass, will ruin every bit of the prairie. Then, losing all the sources of food, the rabbits will die on a large scale until they go extinct in the end!
“Do you understand?
“In the ecological system, the seemingly hideous and brutal wolves are actually the guardians of the grass, the rabbits, and the great nature, while the seemingly friendly, warmhearted guys are fiends who are enslaved by their expanding morals!
“Maybe they really meant well. Maybe they fought hard against the wolves and paid a lot of blood and sacrifices while they were protecting the rabbits…
“But so what? It does not change the fact that the entire ecological system has been destroyed by their ‘kindness’!”
Li Yao’s brain was humming.
The Immortal Cultivators’ rhetoric was apparently tempered time and time again during the past thousand years. Although it was a bit imposing, it did seem justified and reasonable at first glance.
Taking a deep breath, with sacred brilliance gleaming on her face, Tang Qianhe proudly declared, “The civilization of mankind, like the ecological balance, has its own internal logic of operation and development.
“Only the fittest should survive. Only by maintaining a certain level of cruel competition can we make sure that the most excellent genes receive the most abundant resources and be passed on, and that the foul genes are slowly eliminated instead of wasting our resources and polluting the environment!
“This is just the metabolism of the civilization of mankind. It is a normal and reasonable process. The superior are selected, and the inferior are eliminated!
“However, as the civilization of mankind developed and all kinds of new techniques and technologies were invented, it seemed that we had defeated mother nature and could ignore the rules and logic! Therefore, many people grew arrogant. Their rationalities were replaced by their passions, and they were even bold enough to serve justice for the nature. Their living embodiments are the contemporary Cultivators!
“The contemporary Cultivators conquered every place and removed the enemies of the civilization of mankind. They created a stable world without any trouble inside or outside. They also developed advanced technology of spiritual energy and popularized the magical equipment and the techniques. The living environment of the ordinary people was significantly improved. Their average longevity had been more than multiplied. As a result, the population of the ordinary people soared like a volcanic eruption. The foul genes which should’ve been eliminated in a harsh environment were actually passed on!
“They were like the exponentially growing rabbits on the prairie who have lost the wolves as their enemies!
“Such a world seems beautiful, but it is just a man-made, delicate, and vulnerable greenhouse. It cannot last long.
“As soon as the population of the ordinary people reaches a tipping point, their infinite desire for resources will eventually collapse the entire world. Soaked in their foul genes, the Cultivators will also lose their desire for innovation and retrograde with them. In the end, everybody will be doomed. The fire of civilization in the world will perish forever, just like the desert that has been chewed up by the rabbits!
“Do not think that I am overstating this. In the history of the Imperium of True Human Beings, we have discovered too many self-destructing worlds of Cultivators. It is exactly because we saw the miseries of those worlds and learned their lessons that we were motivated to further pursue the true path of immortality!
“After we return to the base, you can ask Master Su to show you the destruction of said worlds. You will understand what I mean!
“Anyway, no matter how harmonious, beautiful, and prosperous a world of Cultivators appears, and no matter how bonded the Cultivators and the ordinary people are, it is achieved at the cost of trading the future and sacrificing the interests of their progeny. It is the last moment of consciousness before death and the eventual brilliance of a civilization in its sunset!
“For someone like you who is unaware of the truth and has been brainwashed by the Cultivators for decades, the Immortal Cultivators’ behavior may strike you as cruel, brutal, and even ferocious!
“However, it is just like wolves hunting rabbits. What appears to be brutal is a matter of necessity for the ecological equilibrium. It is greatly beneficial for both the prairie and the long-term prosperity of the rabbits as a whole!”
Li Yao took a deep, deep breath.
He began to feel that he was being slightly shaken by Tang Qianhe.
Tang Qianhe, of course, could not be smart enough to come up with such theories. Such words must have been drafted by the great theorists among the Immortal Cultivators after hundreds of years and inculcated into every citizen of the Imperium’s head from a young age.
Li Yao did not intend to fight theoretical enemy when he was not prepared. Pretending that he was enlightened, he nodded quickly and changed the topic. “I—I think I understand now! However, what if… I ate Immortal Cultivators instead of ordinary people?
“Ordinary people are just ‘hominoids’. It doesn’t matter because they are special, high-level animals. But what will happen if I really hurt people of my own kind?”