One of the most perplexing questions that has continually haunted mankind is, "Why do we keep killing each other?" What is it within so many of us that compels us to keep finding reasons to kill others and even ourselves?
Our history books are riddled with dates, notable participants and massive amounts of data surrounding the brutally laden mass murders, which we call war. The same scholars and historians who create and maintain records of our wars, are also usually responsible for attributing their causes. The world has seen wars of defense, wars over property, wars of retaliation, wars of aggression, wars of "glory," survival, religion, etc. and yet regardless of the cause, there never seems to be some ultimate resolution, as we keep finding reasons to start more wars.
Many of the reasons that we use to create wars are also used as excuses to kill each other on a more personal level, as well. When it comes down to murders on a one on one basis we can add reasons of jealousy, hate, sadism, personal bias, greed, fear, et c . So, while we can find a multitude of reasons to kill, we just can't seem to come up with a universal all purpose cause, much less a permanent solution.
Before I delve into this critical question and offer my attempt at an answer, I'd like to present my credentials as they relate to this subject. Basically, I have none! As my authority I can only provide a modicum of specialized formal training, 72 years of life experience (including a lot of travel), a curious mind and research that consist of, to paraphrase Will Rogers, "All I know is what I read on the Internet." So, before you go back to whatever it is that you were doing before you started reading this brief article , please take a few minutes to hear me out.
Since from the time I was born until I left home, in my early twenties, my father was a psychologist in the US Air Force. As a result of my parents love of travel, we moved a lot. In fact, by the time I got out of high school I had lived in thirty-eight states and several foreign countries.
Seeming to find myself always walking into a new classroom full of fresh faces, I inadvertently developed a keen ability to readily profile others . Not necessarily "racial profiling" but rather the ability to more generally categorize or classify the various groups within a new school environment. For example, I could readily identify the jocks and their cheerleaders, the smart kids and the goof offs, the jokesters and the misfits, the loners and the most popular, the devout and the atheist, etc.
This unique skill has served me well throughout my adult life, as well. In fact, after watching several of Woody Allen's earlier movies and standup routines, I discerned certain characteristics, which he continually highlighted and integrated into his public persona. They had to do with a certain type of insecurity, a lack of self-confidence and constant questioning of self-worth and value. My curiosity compelled me to try to discover an association between that mental attitude and its cause. I wasn't content with attributing it to just his religious upbringing, because I noticed that it was much more pronounced in the Jewish men than in the women. It seemed to me that there was a deeper and more pronounced effect on the basic psyche of these particular men. I even wondered if this mental state was a handicap and a critical factor in the submission that the Jewish men inadvertently demonstrated, to some degree, when they were faced with their horrendous domination by the Nazis.
Perhaps, because my father was a psychologist, I developed a genetic and environmental predisposition or interest in events that can occur during our early stages of development. I became fascinated with the backgrounds of notorious individuals who committed outrageously brutal acts and were sociopaths who obviously lacked empathy for others. Very often, in fact more often than "normal," the early background of these damaged individuals was punctuated with early violence of some sort. I started thinking of and referring to these early traumatic events as psychological "imprints." Long lasting early traumas that can very often burden or psychologically scar individuals for life. Noting that there could also be positive imprinting aspects, as well.
I recall, during the mid '90s, having a discussion with a friend, who was a psychiatrist. The discussion was regarding the difference in the imprinting that occurred during, and as part of, the birthing process, as opposed to the imprinting that occurred a week later -- after a Jewish boy had possibly overcome some of the initial trauma of birth and regained some sense of trust -- during the genital mutilation ceremony called a Bris. I contended that the trauma that the boy experienced during the birthing experience was subsumed as one, while she claimed that it didn't make any difference since there was no pain or long-term after affects of the Bris. Since then, I have found much research which supports my original contention; click here for an example. Perhaps she was biased by not being a male and her strong Jewish heritage. In any event, my minor delving into the seemingly insecure nature of many Jewish men led me to consider the prospect of a more universal fear of trama induced rejection by all of mankind.
Our advancements in medical research, with the relevantly recent advent of electronics, has been expanding at an exponential rate. The medical community of today has access to an amazing array of computer driven devices that are delving into the very nature of our minds and bodies with an atomic level of precision. This degree of exploration is uncovering the causes and remedies for many of the maladies that have plagued mankind ever since we first became aware of ourselves.
In spite of these tremendous advances, we are still on the very cusp of being able to discern what the short and long term effect that the trauma of birth may have on our newly born children. Not only would it be inhumane, but currently impractical to attempt to "wire up" a newly born child to see what their brain activity is like. However, and this leads to the ultimate point of this little article, perhaps the inevitable process of being born has always been the source of a terrible psychological blight on all of mankind!
It is well understood that fear is one of our most basic and primal emotions. The very core instinct of survival of almost all forms of life is encased in the many forms of fear. Could it be , that what we perceive to be the survival instinct, is in reality not genetically based, but instead a fear based on the rejection trauma that occurs by being born?
Perhaps all of us have always been born with a deep-seated fear of rejection. After all, prior to being born, we were all (at least/ hopefully the majority of us) conceived and initially nurtured in a perfect state of bliss. It is quite probable that the majority of us, prior to being born, had no sense of fear, much less the specific fear that comes from rejection.
However, what are the vast negative possibilities and consequenses that could occur during and right after birth? From existing in a near state of perfect contentment, we are physically squeezed through a rather narrow opening and forcibly ejected into what is usually a very hostile environment. A slap is used to begin the foreign procedure of breathing and then, amid the noise, bright lights and confusion could begin the development of the real possibility of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) -- maybe mild but possibly long lived, none the less.
And so, we are all born with a deep-seated fear of rejection. How could it be any other way? I understand that birthing a baby in water can do a lot to alleviate the stress associated with birth, but most of us were not so privileged. We come into this world with a subliminal but permanent and gnawing sense of unworthiness and rejection. What are the long term ramifications on us as individuals and humanity in general? Could we all be harboring an incredibly faint desire to retaliate?