Can We Be Non-Violent?

Published on 2 January 2024 at 13:13

On 10/7/2023, Hamas struck inside Israel, killing men, women, and children with a viciousness seldom seen. Israel responded, perhaps understandably, by killing Palestinians at a ratio of about 6:1, and they don't seem to be finished as I write this on 11/10/2023. We're coming up on the second anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine and, again, the indiscriminate killing of thousands of innocent people in an apparent effort to gain some territory they believe is rightly theirs. The U.S. is striking targets in Syria as part of a murky strategy to kill terrorists in the region. In Sudan, an estimated 9,000 people have been killed, and another 5.6 million have been forced to flee their homes. Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso are rattling their swords. Armenia and Azerbaijan are roiling again. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India seem always to be on the verge of a shooting war. Close your eyes, put your finger almost anywhere on a world map, and you will find violence, the threat of violence, or oppressors of one kind or another.

Is this all a new phenomenon? I tend to think not. Going back to before recorded history, when we were wandering tribes or clans of short, hairy, almost-human creatures, we were constantly fighting. We were fighting off predators that were hellbent on making us their dinner. We were encountering other tribes on the move and engaging with them in battles to claim a hunting area, perhaps the food they already had, and of course, we men were constantly demanding fresh women. As we settled into communities, towns, cities, and city-states, we became even more territorial and paranoid about others wanting our land. At the same time, we coveted the land of others and decided we wanted more than what we had. We developed armies to defend what we had and take what we wanted from others. Let the wars begin!

Can we overcome what appear to be hardwired tendencies?

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