The pages of history, those monuments to humankind's brief rule over the planet, are replete with violence, death and destruction. Indeed, it can be argued successfully that war, genocide, ethnic cleansing and human violence against each other have defined humanity's tumultuous existence on Earth. We are inseparable from death and destruction, suffering and violence. Turning the pages of the little we know of our own past, one thing becomes quite apparent: Throughout time, in all corners of the world, mankind has lived side by side with war, destruction and death. We have defined our existence through the self-inflicted violence we unleash upon ourselves. What is it about the human condition that espouses in us a propensity to grossly annihilate ourselves, inflicting horrendous misery onto our kind?
Violence and humanity were born conjoined twins out of the thick canopy of our ancestral home in the Eastern African jungles. Even in the ape-like appearance and behavior of our primate selves could our violent genes be seen. Competition forced upon us the will to survive through the defeat of competitor groups. Wars waged high in the canopy became the first symptoms of our disease. Group versus group, competitor versus competitor, the violence ingrained in us manifested itself in the primitive battles and hollowed screams of our long-gone ancestors.
Branch to branch, foot by foot, with nail and teeth the prelude to modern warfare was born.
In a world of survival that depended on an ability to defend the group and protect territory from alien invaders our primate ancestors had to evolve violence. Only those who developed the greatest propensity to violence and those who possessed the best skills in combat could be assured of survival. Thus, it was these skills and propensities that got passed down generation to generation, eventually becoming attached to our evolving makeup. Survival of the fittest demanded that violence become part of the human condition, a necessary and adaptable behavior needed to survive and thrive.
To fight or fail, to battle and win, our early days, full of competition for sexual mates, territory and finite resources, became the primitive engenderer of the violence that befalls humanity today, just as it has throughout history. To develop aggressiveness, propensity to violence and skill in combat assured our ancestors lived another day. To fail in battle meant almost certain extinction and genetic banishment. It was those who survived, those who are today our most direct predecessors that were the most violent, the most lethal and most adept in aggression whose genes we eventually inherited.
Conditioned Minds, Hidden Realities
Our mistake is not wanting to see who and what we truly are. It is living in the delusion of our grandeur and the imposition of our omnipotence. It is neglecting to acknowledge the reality of our origins and the truth behind our behaviors. It is living in the delusion that we are something we are not. Thinking ourselves placed on this planet through the hands of our metaphysical idol, we believe in the façade of the magnificence of our civilization and the perfection of our existence.
Failing to erase the delusion of our god-appointed reign over the planet or the deity-inspired anointment over all living creatures we blindly devour anything in our path, destroying the knowledge of our being by the evisceration of our home. Thinking ourselves a completely different entity than the mammal world we belong to, we refuse to realize that from our cousins our behaviors arise. All mammals derive from a common ancestor, a rat like creature that evolution transformed to the plethora of diversity our species is slowly making extinct. It is only natural, then, that we share many of the same traits and behaviors as our blood relatives. As an example, we share over 98 percent of the same genes as a chimpanzee, while we share over 90 percent of the same genetic makeup as a common mouse.
To study the animal world is to in many ways delve into the far and not so far reaches of human behavior, peering through the unobstructed lens creatures sharing many of our traits comprise. To study the behavior of our closest relatives is to dive into the deepest wells of human evolution and seeing who and what we really are. By understanding that which we fail to escape but refuse to acknowledge better humans can we all be made to be.
We fail to understand where we come from, what we once were and how evolution works. Thinking ourselves immune to the same laws of nature encapsulating the rest of the animals world we are in essence abandoning an enormous chunk of information that can allow us to better understand the human condition. We do not comprehend that evolution works in eons, not decades, that behaviors and genetic mutations transcend generations and that much of what we think of as human nature today was first brought to light hundreds of thousands of years ago, long before the arrival of civilization, technology and religion.
Religion commanded that we look upon ourselves as separate entities from anything living on Earth. We were placed on the planet by powers higher than ourselves, created out of thin air, becoming human the moment we took our first breath. Evolution was non-existent, as was the idea that humankind was once part of the animal world. Our evolving physical and mental realities were never taken into consideration, nor the truth of the natural world that enveloped us.
Religion that was created thousands of years ago continues to control our lives today, with the same primitiveness of days gone by and with the same belief structure that fails to include the knowledge and intelligence we possess today. It is these mechanisms, along with our inability to escape the cloud of self-aggrandizing delusion hovering above us that continues to plague our advancement.