A brief conversation with my wife last night resulted in her making the statement, 'you know, there will ALWAYS be a war....somewhere.' She had
called me a hippy earlier on in the evening. That got me thinking, as you folks tend to do.
(This is going to be an effort on my part to determine whether I believe her or not. )
After hearing her comment and pondering for every bit of 1.5 seconds, My head flashed to this: (the first few minutes of 2001: A Space Odyssey)
I know you've all seen it. An assumptive figure of human ancestry, inspired apparently by an alien monolith, discovers the force possible by wielding
a weapon. It changes their world.
Understandably, (for me) that led me to this to this: (An interview with Jane Goodall describing Chimpanzees and war)
...And little more of an exploration of Chimpanzee behavior as it relates to territory expansion. This video explains how 'troops' of chimpanzees
will stalk and kill chimps from neighboring troops. Not for food, but for conquest of territory.
I'm not getting into the evolution debate here. I'm resting on the premise that Chimpanzees and Human beings share many characteristics and are very
It used to be commonly accepted that Human beings were the only species that waged war on members of its own species, but that has been thoroughly
It leads me to what I feel is a fairly obvious conclusion. War is not only a trait that often seems inseparable from mankind as a whole, but has
been a part of our evolution and is more of a programmed necessity than some of us (myself) would care to admit.
I’m going to try and explore a few of the instinctual traits that I feel are the end result of unknown years of adaptation on the part of mankind.
I’m not a sociologist or anthropologist, so my opinions are of course not entirely accurate.
With small variances, I would classify mankind as an apex predator. We reside at the top of our varied planetary resources through our ability to
adapt and advance the 'art' of the hunt and the kill. Through perhaps millions of years, mankind has honed his skills to take food from the
environment, protect his clan and expand his territory.
The use of rocks, sticks and brute force of course gave way to snares, nets, sharper sticks and the use of projectile, or missile weapons. Today,
there are custom calibers, custom loads of powder and the ability to kill from thousands of feet away using very elaborate hunting 'rifles' that are
the pinnacle of throwing a rock at an animal. Complicated, powerful and very accurate bows have become the best way to throw a sharp stick.
It is my belief that within mostly the male of the human species, the core of our being possesses this 'need' to hunt. When we wear our business
suits, we try as hard as we can to deny these animal needs and outwardly display the 'fruits' of our lengthy evolution. 'Civilized' discussion,
control of our emotions, restrained social interaction – These are things we see as desirable behavior when judged against the expectations of
I also feel that when a man tries to deny his nature or suppress his instincts, internal conflict will arise. If this conflict is not addressed and
resolved, there can be instances of this instinct ‘punching holes’ into the consciousness of the man, resulting in abhorrent behavior. I truly
feel that the suppression of our natural instinct and needs, mainly as a result of the changing norms of our society has resulted in tremendous
internal conflict among many of the males of the human species, but especially males in western society.
The need to procreate is again, one of these core instinctual needs in mankind. The ability to care for your offspring and your 'harem' (however
small) is necessary if an animal is to secure the place of his genetic influence into the population of the species.
Throughout nature, with the exception of the rare monogamous relation, males of breeding age and sufficient physical strength, colorful plumage,
and/or intelligence will battle for superiority amongst those of it's species to insure the opportunity to mate.
Once the harem has been established, or the single mate enticed, it becomes imperative for the male to protect his progeny and the female that will
bear them. As with most animals, there is often competition from younger, stronger males wishing to mate with the female(s). If a male is unable to
protect his mate(s) and his offspring, and the territory that they need to produce enough food or other resources to ensure their survival, his
'bloodline' will not be carried on and stronger, more capable animals will take his place.
This behavior is still painfully obvious in most males of the human species today. Again, efforts are made to suppress it, or disguise it, or put a
kinder name to it, but the instinctual need to procreate is a tremendous force that human males must learn to suppress. The need to protect our mates
and children, though restrained when viewed normally, lies dormant within us, waiting for the need for us to become the animals we males KNOW we are
on the inside.
We walk a razor’s edge between the blind explosive emotions and the need to restrain them when operating within normal circumstances.
Children need to eat. Mates need to eat. Males need to eat. We need leaves for beds, sticks to throw and a stream in which to wash in, drink from and
relax, when we have a moment to let our guard down. The resources we need as a clan of animals will obviously increase, if we have grown our clan
though successful hunting and protecting. There will come a time when our territory must expand and then we must become conquerors.
Either alone, or socially, we set out into the territories of neighboring clans with the intention of increasing the area from which we can draw
resources. The more we expand, the larger our clan can become. A larger clan, of course, requires a larger area for support.
Through the development of tactics and the 'art' of war, we combine the hunter role and the protector role and become warriors, or conquerors.
Until very recently, most cultures of human beings had a ceremony or occasion at a set time in a male's life where they were expected to become a
fighting member of the clan. There was much anticipation leading to this time and the role was assumed with great pride. Although that practice has
been replaced with religious ceremonies in some cases, when a boy becomes a man in today’s world, it is not often an occasion marked by the
acquisition of a scalp, a skull, or a buffalo. Emasculation becomes almost necessary in the young mans rearing to force him to adapt to societal
Today, the transition into manhood is marked mostly with restraints. Imaginary lines that we are taught we cannot cross; a never-ending struggle to
deny the nature programmed into our very existence though the millennia of our development. With the exception of a relatively small segment of the
population, man does not hunt, in reality, he has little constant need to physically protect his clan and conquering one's neighbors is generally
Where does all this leave us as males in the world today? Look around. It leaves us pretty screwed up.
Blowing Off Steam
Given the nature of our need to disguise or minimize our animal instincts, I feel that when these needs become overpowering and have not been
correctly addressed, we must suffer irrationalities that have the potential to be horrific. It is also my belief that through some apparently benign
practices, ‘hobbies’ or associations, western man in particular, has the opportunity to lessen the likelihood of violent instinctual outbursts by
‘pretending’ to be involved in these ancient instinctual adaptations. Although these actions are not genuine to their origins, they DO seem to
allow some individuals freedom from the more disturbing behaviors that result from repression of our instincts.
Some of our population in the United States hunts. A little less than one EIGHTH has hunted in the last few years. There are those that fish, though I
don't have numbers available, we know that number is fairly high as well and can, in some instances, satisfy the natural need for stalking and
capturing prey. We sometimes refer to that as 'the thrill of the chase' and it applies to almost all of the expressions of our instinctual needs.
Some of our population actively seeks out numerous mates, either through approved or illegal polygamy, or through a practice which has garnered a
negative descriptor, 'womanizing.' Again, the thrill of the chase figures in and in order to avoid consequences, often times the males will go to
great lengths to avoid actually creating offspring. The instinctual need is so great and misunderstood in some that they are unable to function within
the norms established by our society. When this need is not met, or addressed realistically, again, abhorrent behaviors can be the result.
With the decline of a tight-knit social structure, western mankind in particular, has been left, for the most part, alone. Through cultivated bias,
distrust, skepticism and huge rifts in fundamental beliefs, the western man is a mostly solitary creature in his ‘territory’ and forced to
contain, deny, or hide thousands of years of honed intuitions and instincts to be accepted within the rigid confines of western society. The results
of this, again, result in behavior that falls well outside the accepted cultural standards.
Many will argue this point and claim that mankind is a social creature. That is correct. Mankind evolved in tight social groups, or clans, but
overwhelmingly, in our present society, often the best we can hope for to fill this need will be loose ‘associations’ of like-minded individuals.
Many flock to religious groups, fraternities, lodges, organized sports, the list goes on and on. All of it, in my opinion, an effort, however
subconscious, to satisfy the need that mankind has for the interweaving of like peoples into groups focused on the furthering of common goals. I
loosely compare this to the clans of our ancestors.
When shunned by our peers, denied access to social gatherings or otherwise denied that age-old need for community, the results can be very disturbing.
Alone, we will typically wither and die.
Surprisingly, western society is fraught with ideals and lore that reinforces the notion that we should be self-sufficient and even solitary. “be
your OWN Man!’ ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!’, etc., and seems to encourage a life of selfish pursuits.
Although some will despise the example, I think it is important to note that a great number of our practices can be related to the ‘team
aggression’ phenomenon discussed in one of the videos above. In that regard, we are much closer to chimpanzees than even I care to admit.
Through learned, or instinctual bias, seeking out others of like mind to satisfy need for community, and our natural desire to protect or expand our
territory we see manifestations of ancient behaviors in anything from well disguised efforts like football games, to more blatant and deadly
expressions such as gang violence, class warfare, discrimination and even all-out war.
Indeed, our sticks have changed, and our rocks have changed and we are FAR more efficient at these prehistoric efforts than we used to be, but the
underlying dynamic, in my opinion, is still the same. There is ‘strength in numbers.’ We all know, instinctively that the most protection,
productivity, indeed success, can only be obtained through the effort of community and not individuality. This could sound like an endorsement for
some form of political party, but it’s not. It’s much deeper than that. Human beings have a need to belong to a group. It’s in our nature and
although the lack of a social group is, on rare occasion, survivable, the experience will be less than ideal for all but those willing and able to
withstand the rigors of serious emotional, physical and psychological difficulties. Man is not the solitary animal some would have us believe.
The Clans Just Got Bigger
Understanding the nature of team aggression, we all can relate to the natural drive to acquire more territory or resources, the need to provide for
and protect our clan and the need to be secure in our community.
As the world becomes more populated and people of varying nationalities, cultures and beliefs become more exposed to each other, it is completely
natural and to a certain extent unavoidable, that we will form, or attempt to form groups within these populations of those that are similar to
Through misunderstandings, complacency and just evolutionary programming, these associations can exhibit a tendency towards exclusivity. This in and
of itself is not of terrible consequence. History has shown that different tribes and clans CAN coexist peacefully given willingness towards respect,
consideration and honest dialogue.
History has also shown us the result of these natural tendencies becoming completely distorted and groups becoming so exclusive that others are hurt
as a result. When our natural behaviors are suppressed for great periods and then are drawn out in a negative fashion by extreme nationalism, or
through the use of propaganda or fear, the consequences can be catastrophic.
Terms such as ‘genocide’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ are, in my opinion, the culmination of a collective outward expression of normally healthy
instinctive behaviors that have been capitalized on, sometimes unknown by the participants, to serve the purpose of a misguided ‘clan’ or it’s
leader. Tapping into these prehistoric needs and behaviors, the leader of the clan can incite violence, hatred, intolerance and even a war of global
Is There Any Hope?
The twelve quadrillion dollar question.
Are we doomed to fight wars for the rest of mankind’s sojourn on this planet? Will we ever know peace? Can we ever embrace, nurture and satisfy
these natural instincts without allowing them to rule our existence? My heart tells me we can, but my mind tells me we will not.
My heart tells me that if we CHOOSE to TRY peace, to REALLY, REALLY TRY peace, we can achieve a level of evolution that we can not even dream of right
now. My heart says I don’t care if you feel I’m not worthy to share your clan, because I don’t want to crack a head with a rock, or stalk and
kill an ape of a different clan.
My head tells me that I can only change me, and that leaves 7 billion other humans on the planet that must also ALL make a choice to try peace. My
limited knowledge of history lives in my mind, alongside images of the atrocities of the past and the nightmares of the ones we have yet to see. My
mind sees doom and maybe someday the rebuilding of clans, to start the violent process all over again.
Though I choose, today, to listen to my heart, that is subject to change, I am subject to change, we ALL are subject to change. This is both hopeful
I think Jane Goodall pretty much summed up how I FEEL in the video that is referenced above.
I DO believe that we have innate aggressive tendencies….
That doesn’t mean that war is inevitable. That doesn’t mean that we have to continue in this mode of aggression and we DO have the ability to
control our selfish beings.
That is the hippy hope I will continue to cling to, probably to my detriment; stubbornly refusing that all hope for mankind to truly experience peace
and evolution has been lost; a stubborn refusal to accept that evolution refers to bigger, smarter bombs, or smaller phones, or pigs that taste like
Instead I choose to hold on, as tight as I can to the hope that change IS possible and that rather than thousands of individual, hating, fearful,
greedy clans, that we CAN exist someday as one hopeful, generous, evolved clan where killing each other by the thousands is a distant memory.
Unfortunately Nature itself is not peaceful. The top dog survives, all others get eaten ... Why was the system made that way, or better, why did it
evolve in this manner?
The body, and I mean this in a strictly biological way, wants to survive at all costs. Self-preservation is a major force behind agression. A peaceful
society can only exist after shedding our biological bodies. Maybe when consciousness is not connected to living tissue, we could make some real
But are you not also fighting for a cause that has had violence used as a tactic? Like I said the human heart is weak and the hippies are not above
that. They usually like to point the finger at the other guys. A good point is why don't you see the anti-war rallies now? Because the hippie heart
is weak I think.
Mankind may be around to see a time without war but not in our lifetime. Not while we have a monetary system that not only encourages it but demands
it as a prime source of wealth redistribution (from the poor to the rich) and creating profit at the expense of another.
This content community relies on user-generated content from our member contributors. The opinions of our members are not those of site ownership who maintains strict editorial agnosticism and simply provides a collaborative venue for free expression.