“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
― Mahatma Gandhi
We live in a world of war, endless fighting and constant conflict. What if the Mad Max scenario is the future of humankind? What the story of Mad Max really brought to mind is the question: " As a species, why are we so violent"? Humans are violent creatures. Is acting on aggression a habit? Where does this violent behavior come from? Are we hardwired with it, or do we learn this behavior? And is there any way to move beyond being a violent creature? Author and activist Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his thought provoking, philosophical book, Living Buddha, Living Christ, that although we often think of peace as the absence of war, this is our own illusion :
"Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ”
Richard Wrangham, a Professor of Biological Anthropology in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University has studied primate behavioral ecology, violence, ape conservation and the evolution of human diet since 1989. He has observed wild chimpanzee behavior in Kibale National Park, Uganda. In 1996, Wrangham and Dale Peterson published Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin). During an interview for The BigThink http://bigthink.com/ Wrangham stated that exploring questions about the roots of human violence is one of the most fascinating aspects of human evolution. Is it fully understood? No.
“We are an unusual species because we have such an extraordinary mix of these two aspects. We show them both to extremes; we’re amazingly more cooperative than almost any other species and we’re extraordinarily destructive compared to most other species."
So human beings have the ability to choose between intolerance and violent aggression benefiting few or resolving conflict with understanding and diplomatic means benefiting many. Why do we continuously choose violence and conflict? Which seeds do we want to sow for our future generations?