Valenzuela: Never Again? Try Again and Again (1)
The Human Hell and the Demons of War: Think
Never Again? Try Again and Again.
PART ONE OF
By Manuel Valenzuela
Contributing Editor Axisoflogic.com
May 11, 2004, 00:22
See also Part 2
Branch Warfare and the Evolution of Aggression
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, having become creatures addicted to the malice inherent in human evil. 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 and never learning from the devastation unleashed by us onto us?
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 discerned. 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. This reality can today be seen in modern mammals of today. In time we fell off our comfortable branches high above the canopy, now bipedal and stepping forward in evolutionary exigencies, ready to take the next leap forward. As we made the savannah our new ecosystem competition once more reared its ugly head. New predators arose, new rivalries emerged. Survival of the fittest never seemed so important. Those born aggressive survived, those less fortunate perished.
Struggling over territory we fought interlopers; competing for finite resources we waged battles. Our drive to procreate pitted male versus male in animalistic bouts of combat that killed, wounded or banished. The winner of such fights controlled fertile females, claiming new forested territory as a result, thus becoming the new procreator of genetic bonds, killing off genetic competitor’s offspring if he had to. Survival of the fittest ensured that only our most able ancestors succeeded and passed on their seed to future generations.
Our story mirrors that of so many diverse mammals. We are similar to them in so many ways, living, breathing and surviving in nature much the same as they have for hundreds of thousands of years. Species have come and gone, yet mammals we all remain, birthing, eating, parenting, sleeping, defending, surviving, thriving and dying in very similar ways. Behaviors and social structures, hierarchy and competition are, if studied carefully, similar in many species, including our own. We were once part of the animal world as much as the animal world was once part of us.
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. Through eons and generations of evolutions our bodies changed and minds grew, yet the struggle for survival heeded the need to defend, kill, maim and protect. Aggression thus became a tool necessary for continued existence. To fail in this genetic battle was to declare defeat and almost certain death. Left without genetic progeny, those lacking violent arsenals disappeared into the realm of the forgotten, made extinct by the insufficient predisposition toward aggressiveness.
To fight or fail, to battle and survive became, in our early days full of competition for sexual mates, territory and finite resources, 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 and 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.
The greatest symptom of our disease today was spawned in the wars of survival emanating in the now forgotten days of yesteryear. The virus that causes so much death, destruction and misery today was forged before we knew what we would eventually become. Out of necessity, out of adaptability and based on the laws of nature humankind arose from the jungles and the savannah bipedal and intelligent, predisposed of violence and competition. The laws meant for the animal world mutated in form and substance with our ever-evolving brains, creating the most lethal, self-destructive and violent mammal the world has ever spawned.
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 myth 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 animal 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.
Our religions have made us believe in the exquisite creation of our civilization and in the chosen ascendancy of our almighty sovereignty. They have, through the perceived greatness of our species deriving from the heavens above, guided us on paths of human myths, not realities. Created before our minds could conceive of or understand our relationship with the animal and natural world, religion furthered beliefs at odds with our animal selves and our own behavioral and instinctual evolutions. It condemned the idea of us as animals inclined with many of the same characteristics as the mammalian world. Instead, its dogma demanded that we become gods onto ourselves, rulers of the planet, created by our deity in its same image.
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.
We live in the denial of our existence, believing us superior and chosen, unable, unwilling really, to accept that which our minds and egos refuse to acknowledge. For to degrade ourselves as having risen and indeed being part of the world of the beasts and mammals would be to strike down the fallacy of our own self-absorbed greatness that has led us down the wrong road for the last ten-thousand years. Conditioned for millennia to believe in our own hegemony and importance, we have been led astray, lost in our concrete jungle ecosystems, wandering aimlessly on our road to perdition, passing through the ruins of the knowledge that can save us but that we are destroying, even as we refuse to accept the reality of our creation and the truth behind our behaviors.
The animal world that birthed us have we abandoned, along with the vast knowledge it possesses. The keys to understanding ourselves lie in front of our eyes, in the world we refuse to acknowledge and only seem to want to destroy. Instead primitive we remain, thrust upon our violent selves by our refusal to evolve past the dogma of ancient times that was born to ignorance and fear. A perplexing quandary has arisen that denies the truth behind our ways and the understanding we desperately need to squash our demons. In light we see no evil and in darkness the truth remains.
The grand lie we live of our god-like divinity has for centuries clashed with the great truth of our animal-like reality. Except we are too delusional to see beyond the mirage of greatness we espouse onto our fragile egos. The great fallacy of our omnipotence is corrosively leading to the impotence of our continued existence.
See also Part 2
© Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com
Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, activist, writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel to be published in Spring of 2004. His articles appear weekly on axisoflogic.com where he is also contributing editor. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read More articles by Manuel Valenzuela.