Mind WorX – Violence
HUMAN BEINGS are the most violent creatures on earth, bar none. That might be a hard fact to come to terms with, but it is true. The lion and the tiger may appear to be more violent, but they are not. Their violence is the same basic instinct for survival that they started out with and still use today. They use violence to kill and eat.
We used the same arsenal for survival at the start of our existence as well, but we had a big advantage over the other animals – we had a more sophisticated and larger brain, which gave us the ability to reason.
When we first stepped out of our caves and looked out over the strange land that surrounded us, we had the same basic instincts for survival as the other animals. Those were fight or flight – both of which are violent. If we determined that we had the upper hand, we would instinctively fight with aggression and violence to survive being eaten – or to eat the opponent.
On the other hand, if we determined that the opponent had the better of us, we would instinctively flee, which was the exact same strategy for all the other animals on those ancient African plains. We were all on a level playing field. For quite a time our death rate caused by those other animal attacks was very high. We probably fed more animals than animals fed us.
But things were a-changing. We had something the other animals never had to any degree. We had the ability to learn from our mistakes. The more of us that were killed, the more the rest of us learned how to increase the chances of surviving the next attack from predatory beasts.
We knew instinctively, even then, that we needed to change or face the alternative – become an evolutionary dead end and go the way of the dinosaurs. The real challenge was quite simple – it was a question of survival – whether or not, we as a species was going to continue to grow, change and evolve – or not.
The mechanism that we used to survive and evolve was violence. Competition was one way we expressed our desire to survive. We competed with other species for vegetation, (fruit nuts and grains) protein from the carcasses of other beasts – and territory that we claimed exclusively as our own. All of this was violent.
We are an extraordinarily violent animal and an extraordinarily successful one. We have casually destroyed entire species around us completely without batting an eyelid and more are dying every day. We have spread our progeny all over the planet to plague proportions and as we do so, other less well equipped species die out.
Violence is what made us successful. Violence is programmed into us. Our evolutionary advantage is our mind and brain. That is what has made our species, the successful animal it is. The tiger and lion have their claws, we have thought. We realized early on that we can’t beat a big cat in a fight, but we can shoot it.
Our superior intelligence and reasoning enabled us to invent weapons – firstly stoned tipped spears and daggers, then bows and arrows, swords and axes and finally guns. We used these weapons with great success. Now, no other species threatens us at all. We are kings of the planet.
We have conquered the frontiers of this world, thus the outlets for our violence have narrowed and we have fewer of the usual external outlets for violence, so where are we directing it now? We have turned on ourselves and the planet we live on. We are attempting to destroy our very selves.
Young against old, black against white, this country against that, my religion against yours, male against female, female against male. We are also destroying the ecology of the planet. Out of our cleverness, we have created weapons and technology for destroying ourselves completely.
We have become very clever with all the new technology and weapons of mass destruction that we have invented. The problem we face is that we are not mature enough to proficiently handle them, for as a species we are quite adolescent. Adolescence within a species is marked by extreme self-centeredness and by the utilization of power and manipulation for their own sakes.
In other words, we have extraordinary powers at our disposal but, because we are only adolescents, we are not capable of handling them. The world itself is violent and it is we who have created the world in our own image. If the world is confused, self centered, violent, falling apart, it’s because we are.
If we as a species are to grow up and become adults, we must come to terms with our violence. The old evolutionary mechanism, the old way that change has come about, is no longer working, for it’s based on violence and that violence conditioned into us over the centuries has turned on itself.
We must graduate from the early fight or flight mechanisms that once were vital for our survival, but we now no longer require and move on. Mankind must evolve or perish. How can we do that, so as to continue to exist and prosper as a very special member of the animal race?
*Inspiration for this story comes from Joel Kramer’s ‘A Passionate Mind.’
Dan’s Quote: “Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.”- Lao Tzu