The Root Cause of War and Violence
Article by LiveReal Agent Courtney
We'll be as blunt as we can.
(And maybe even more blunt than that.)
First, the bad news:
Human beings, from the beginning of recorded history - and most likely before then - have always been violent, at war, bloodthirsty and murderous. The tale of humanity so far is, for the most part, the story of one brutal, bloody carnage after another.
And, seeing that so many people in the world are still basically ignorant, mule-headed, small-minded, and yellow-bellied . . . this unfortunate state of affairs doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.
OK, now that we've shared that delightful bit of information,
we can move on to the better news.
We don't know for a fact that this state of things must always continue to be like this forever.
And now, your lovable, huggable, and butt-kicking LiveReal Editors are on the case.
Every year, truckloads of Miss America Pageant contestants and Christmas carollers speak lofty words about "world peace" and "good will towards men" and "peace on earth," blah blah, etc etc.
Yet very few folks (including the hot pageant girls, the carolers, and the occasional peace protestor) outside of saying, singing, or preaching that "we all really ought to be nicer to each other" - really seem to have a very clear idea about what to actually do about it.
But that's what we're working on here.
"It isn't enough to talk about peace.
One must believe in it.
And it isn't enough to believe in it.
One must work for it."
- Eleanor Roosevelt
One of the most frightening things about senseless violence and war - we're talking about the genocidal, moronic, "ethnic-cleansing" type of thing here - is that, for the most part, even though basically all of us have either witnessed or taken part in it . . . we still don't seem to truly understand why it is, or what's going on with it.
In essence, the problem of war and violence is largely still unsolved. What is it, after all, that makes a person - and even a large group of people - arrive at the conclusion that "We need to kill all the 'bad' people"?
Let's take, for example,
one of the most well-known, thoroughly researched cases, and archetypally evil cases that we all know about: Hitler.
Ron Rosenbaum, in an exhaustive effort which produced the book Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil, sums it all up his findings in the following words:
"No finite number of explanatory facts
- psychological traumas, patterns of bad parenting,
political deformations, personal dysfunctions
- can add up to the magnitude of evil
that Hitler came to embody and enact.
No explanation or concatenation of explanations
can bridge the gap, explain the transformation
from baby picture to baby killer, to murderer of a million babies.
It is not just a gap...it is an abyss..."
Chilling conclusion, isn't it?
(not to mention that...well, the title of Rosenbaum's book - as seems to usually be the case nowadays - is just a bit overstated and misleading.
After all, the title is "Explaining Hitler."
If his "explanation" of Hitler is that there is literally "no explanation or concatenation of explanations..." well, that isn't really an explanation, is it?)
As the cliche goes - those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it...and so if this is true, then until we really figure out what it is, exactly, that keeps us beating, torturing, and killing each other - and what, then, we can then do about it - it seems that the bloody carnage will continue.
So, is there a way to escape this bloody cosmic aquarium we live in?
If so, how?
We've actually had some success. In some ways, things are better today than they have been in the past.
But for many of us, we haven't arrived yet.
We've had many attempts to "fix" the violence in the world.
For example: the "war to end all wars." (- which definitely kept its promise on the "war" part. The "ending all wars" part, not so much.)
Many other efforts haven't really worked too well either.
For example, just adopting a pacifist attitude and then trying to shove it down everyone else's throats . . . well, it's not exactly the smoothest route to take. It doesn't really convince others too well (especially violent folks), and history has shown that, in extreme cases, most pacifists have eventually been slaughtered by more violent folks (with the notable exception of Gandhi).
At the other extreme, an attitude of "Let's just kill all the violent people!" . . . well, that's a little self-contradictory for our taste, and just not exactly what we'd call "graceful."
So, we figure, it's time to take a fresh look at the problem.
"If only it were all so simple!
If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds,
and it were necessary only to separate them
from the rest of us and destroy them.
But the line dividing good and evil
cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" *
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
* Editor's Note: The above quote, and others like it, are sometimes used by individuals (who generally tend to have a psychologically introspective mindset or a "The Secret" sort of "we create our own reality" mentality) to blame themselves for all violence in the world. For example, when they are attacked, they ask themselves, "What did I do to cause this attack?"
This is not the way we interpret this quote or mean it to be interpreted. Our intention in posting it is not as a rally for self-blame, but as a call to greater self-knowledge for everyone (not just the introspective types), and to develop a more mature understanding of violence, the psychological dynamics involved in the projection of evil, and practical realities of morally right action. There is obviously lots of room for discussion here, but we'll have to save it for another time.
Our basic approach to the matter goes something like this.
Violence is one aspect of human nature.
So, in order to really understand human violence, you need to really understand human nature.
And understanding human nature...as in, "know thyself"...well, that is a core aspect of what LiveReal is all about.
So, we are going to embark - and invite you to embark as well - on a bit of an intellectual odyssey.
- a quest to discover a true understanding of this problem, if such a thing exists.
...and then, to figure out what, exactly, we can do about it.
Want to go for it?