In his seminal works, “The Denial of Death” and “Escape From Evil”, published posthumously,Ernest Becker ponders the central problem of human existence, the human as part animal-part god. We are that which has self knowledge as the Gods, yet are aware that we are flesh and blood and must die. It is that self awareness of our mortality that drives us to attempt to transcend our fate through the value we place in certain cultural institutions. The power of the state and religion are poignant examples of our attempts to identify with immortal institutions, to become something larger than oneself. And yet, Becker ponders why the destructiveness and evil in our history, why such viciousness in the name of our cultural institutions? For him and for me, the answer lies in that dichotomy of god-animal that separates us from the unthinking, that gift from the Creator so exquisitely described in the Book of Genesis. We are the animal that must feel heroic in order to transcend death anxiety, yet are inundated with guilt by our very heroism, our very identification with the cultural institutions of our society. It is guilt at its most primitive level, that which is associated with our feeble attempts to become god-like, to become more than animal. Becker suggests that it is our expiation of guilt that has led our cultural institutions to engage in countless wars, to sacrifice millions of our kind in service to our own mortality. Those within our ranks who question the “rightness” of our value systems must be persecuted; countries with different ideologies must be destroyed. And yet, through the bloodshed and destruction, a most central part of us realizes the illusion and fetishism inherent in this scapegoating. These destructive acts offer only temporary relief from our knowledge that we are less than Gods, that someday soon we will all die. Within these wars and murders I believe there are many more victims than the sacrificed.