Thursday, March 16, 2006
This is not a new idea. But I am curious to know what people think.
In my little head, after watching two shows on TV that talked about real life violence, I stared to wonder where all the violence was coming from.
There are a lot of people who just can't believe the injustice of the world today, how much more violence there is today, then when they were kids.
Okay history....For stealing a loaf of bread you could get your hand shop off, hung, put in jail for long periods of time or even drawn and quartered. Humans have been violent since we came about. Killing each other with great vigor in wars and domestic disputes.
I want to know where the idea of humans being more violent actually comes from. I see little evidence to say that we have become more violent, more simply that we have tools now that shows are violence to be more destructive. In ancient wars. Swords only killed what was within arms length, or at least within throwing distance, today Guns allow us to kill things in a much further distance, and more rapidly. But the now there is a separation, between pulling the trigger and actually feeling the flesh being cut by the weapon you have in your hand.
I wonder too, if the violence that is currently in the news helps reinforce our own natural instinct toward violence. Don't take that statement wrong. Humans have the ability to think, and slow ourselves from hitting someone every time we get irritated. But as part of our instinct, we kill flies that bite our arms, and often without thought. Some more than others, can hunt and kill and animal, or pull a fish out of the water and kill it on spot. Children will fight, among each other, even if they have never seen their parents do that. But Children our another good example of when they see something they repeat it.
And one last idea that is wondering in my head. Humans as in most animals have a certain ability to be violent, and with our adventure into the world of society, and being social and even trying to be civil. But with thousands of years of invading someone's land and attempting to concur them, and trying to defend what is yours, using what ever you could and on top of all that, the ingenuity to create more destructive weponds, how are we to expect the human population to suddenly be non violent. Individuals, sure but I believe the trek toward being civil will take several generations and a lot of work, from everyone to break instinct and natural reaction and develop new habits of walking away or non violent confrontations. It is progress, but a long trip always feels the longest when your not quite half way there.
My one thought would be which societies had the lowest incidences of members of the society committig violent acts against one-another. Did religion play a factor, or only religious ideas bearing the strength of a powerful state? Do extended family relationships play a part?
What about native American populations before European contact, some were seemingly very peaceful, but others like the Mayans were very barbaric.
Another question is whether people living under repressive regimes like in Saudi Arabia who aren't exposed to every day crime feel they are better off?
On CBC yesterday there was a show about Afghanistan in which it was stated that under the Taliban it would have been possible to walk from one end of the country to the other carrying a suitcase full of money without being in danger, but of course we know that wearing your beard the wrong way or being a woman in such a system was worthy of punishment in itself.
Like you say, violence may simply be proportional to the ability to commit such violence and on what scale, in which case I'd say that smaller social institutions are more favourable if it means that, while humans will perhaps continue to be somewhat violent by nature, our ability to harm large numbers of people is diminished.