Monday, August 31, 2009

Violence at last

Okay, where was I?
Violence. Why do we have such a large tolerance for it, some people ask? Well, those people would at very least seem to be trapped in the present, with no sense of history. For most of human history, violence has been the norm rather than an exception. Parents beat children bloody, men were not allowed to beat their wives with a stick wider than their thumbs, police beat anybody they could find, wars were fought close enough to home that people could and did drive out to watch.
But the root causes. Ah. The why.
Well, let's go back to our origins and speculate widely.
Let's say that you're a pre-human primate. What does violence mean to you? Well, if you see a neighbor torn apart by a pack of baboons, it means that you are still alive. If you see your friends tear apart a small deer, it means that you are going to eat. If you and your friends kill the neighboring tribe, it means you will survive.
If seeing violence makes you sick, you probably won't survive. If you won't club another animal to death to protect your babies, your line will probably die out. In a world without lawsuits, disputes are settled in one of two ways: one side bluffs the other out or one side beats the other side physically.
Those who tolerated or even liked violence survived. And passed their genes down to their descendants. Us.

4 comments:

bekkieann said...

Seeing violence does make me sick.

But is there no hope for us? What is the point of having the ability to reason if we are only going to continue behaving like the rest of the animal kingdom?

Or am I getting ahead of your treatise? This is interesting stuff.

On both your houses said...

No, I'm pretty well through. The point though, is that we are pretty much like the rest of the animal kingdom. You are right when you speak of our reasoning powers and what they can do for is. The good news is that, current news to the contrary, life is less violent for humans than it has ever been.

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Having spent the day with my legal aid attorney preparing for this awful and unreasonable law suit from a shyster contractor I am all in favor of violence.

Here in the west the SSS rule sometimes still survives.

Shot, Shovel, and Shut up.

And I am shutting up.

On both your houses said...

Jaqui - I don't know the details of your travails, but you have my sympathy. I have always thought that there is something to be said for vigilante justice if the regularly constituted channels can't or don't work and if it is really justice you're out for. And, I have a very good shovel.