Are human beings inherently violent? Is there something tucked away in our survival of the fittest land-grab mentality that loathes talk and compromise and longs to spout bile and cause harm to others in the name of our cause?
I see history, both ancient and more recent, being replayed around the world in these fragile early years of the twenty-first century and I wonder for the umpteenth time whether we humans will eventually destroy ourselves because deep down we’re just stupid, vicious, territorial and selfish apes whose ability to manipulate tools has developed way out of proportion to our capacity to wield those tools with true responsibility.
Islamophobia? It’s over a thousand years old. After 9/11 George W. Bush inadvisedly used the word ‘crusade’ in an early response to the perpetrators’ perceived religious cause. Sixteen years on we persist in the medieval Christian fallacy that Islam condones murder. It does not. It’s easy enough to prove this to yourself: read some scripture outside of your own. Most people don’t read scripture at all, they garner their ‘facts’ from unsourced social media click bait opinion.
White supremacy? Seriously? There are white Americans whose grandparents fought against, maybe even died fighting against the putrid ideology of racial purity for what reason? So their descendants could be free to pursue a putrid ideology of racial purity? There are British people whose recent ancestors sure as shit were affected by the struggle to bring about a more united and peaceful Europe which we erroneously call ‘the last war’. What would they make of their descendants raging against such unity and railing against immigration in a manner all too reminiscent of Third Reich rhetoric?
If we are so incapable of learning from history, even from events which took place in an era of mass communications ensuring images and footage can provide evidence of the horrors of the past, why should I hold any hope that humankind will somehow survive its own barely suppressed need for aggression fuelled by an apparent dominance of self-interest over altruism in the slime of our collective psyche?
Most of the time I believe that love conquers hatred but even if this is true we exist within societies which increasingly diminish the importance of love in favour of other, more deceptive forms of personal power like wealth and status. The pursuit of purely materialistic gain boosts the ego, increases an already preternatural tendency for self-interest, neglects the heart, starves the soul.
This is not new, by the way, it’s something lone voices have tried to tell people throughout history.
‘For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ Matthew 16:26
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Buddha
‘Those who love the life of this world more than the hereafter, who hinder (men) from the Path of Allah and seek therein something crooked: they are astray by a long distance.’ Qur’an 14:3
“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” Gandhi