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Monday, March 28, 2011

Man Vs. Man

  I can hear the music belonging to the downstairs neighbour on a daily basis. And one song I could hear today was Imagine by John Lennon. Regardless of your opinion on Mr. Lennon's integrity, the message of the somg is resonant on most lands. It got me thinking about the reasons why humans fight and if it is in our nature to want to kill each other.

  One cited cause for injustice is religion. What if man hadn't invented gods; would we really be better off? Since the beginning of recorded history, most tribes held something as divine. It could be a rock, the stars, the earth or sun. And most of the gods man has invented are not worshiped today. Unfortunately, most of the religions observed today have brutal histories. There are tales of armies of this god or that one committing acts of rape, genocide, and enslavement. The Divine Right of Kings is a religious concept; one involving blood purity laws with the castes set from birth. Even many of today's most brutal regimes are kingdoms that oppress their people because god said not to disobey your leaders. Religion certainly has a negative effect on world peace, but it's not the whole story.

  An argument could be made that international borders interfere with peace. Nations are created and fall by force. If little Igor has the rock you want, you take it or die trying. It seems that territorial war has always occurred, often over choice strategic points or natural resources. Polygamy was practiced in early times because adult males were constantly getting killed off. There was little need to stop having babies because the infant mortality was atrocious due to disease and the tradition of killing off all of the males of a conquered tribe. We very much have a warlike mentality, but we have the International community to step in if Jimmy decides he wants Igor's rock. We will have peace even if we need to use force to obtain it.

  What about general hate? We are engaging in all kinds of culture wars that are often rooted in religion or racism. For example, homophobia is a condition of religious observance, but it wasn't always. The Bible was used to justify racism and slavery for millenia, but it doesn't anymore. Us as humans have become so ethnically diverse due to migration that racism will likely be a thing of the past soon if we want it. As it stands today, there is much work to do, but racism and homophobia seem to be easiest to overcome. We are all of the same species and the vast majority of us are aware of this fact.

  I think that humans will always engage in some form of combat because it's in our nature. Now whether the competition is to build the best microprocessor is another story. Even without racism, religion, and land divisions we would still have things like poverty because we wont live together in a 7 billion human hippie commune. Yes, without these things you would have good people doing good things. there are also some very bad people- either through genetic trait or emotional damage, some people will not always tick correctly. These people have no ability to feel empathy, but most of all, have no respect for justice. These people are the most likely to become leaders.

  It takes a certain amount of charisma to win a campaign, whether the vote be to lead 200 nations or a 7 billion man hippie commune. The folks who become heads of state are never short on confidence. Presidents are beloved and have their stables of servants on command. But even if the armed guards, large salary and stable of women aren't enough, there is one thing that always satisfies: having the power to tell one man to kill another. The charming leader has his ego satisfied and billions of people don't need to think. And don't worry, someone is always willing to get to the top of the hill.

   While I think Lennon wrote a pretty song, it kind of misses the point when it comes to who we are as a species. Think about it- religion, racism, xenophobia- they're all things that relate to one group's power over another and manipulating the natural selection process. To assert that we will never fight is a complete denial of the existence of an animal named Homo Sapiens Sapiens. We fight like animals because we are animals fighting for the same things as our cave-dwelling ancestors: resources and status, guarantees of opportunities to breed. It's just that our species has skewed the balance by having 5% of people control 90% of the resources. Plus, we have guns.

  Do I wish for peace? Absolutely. I believe that we can all be better to our neighbours far and wide. We should work to provide relief to the hungry and education for children affected by conflict. But even in a more understanding world there will still be a few cavemen trying to take what's not theirs; we'll just be better prepared to deal with them. If anything, I think our generation has learned the perils of unconstrained authority and will look forward to a future of smarter, more wholistic decisions that will benefit more people. Otherwise it will just be another war in the life of the species that can fly itself into space but not ground itself in sanity.

Stay Tuned

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