I have written before in this column about violence and humans’ propensity to engage in it. The ancient battle between the groups of hunter gatherers that took place on the shore of what is now Lake Victoria has been labeled as the earliest known organized battle. It is interesting to point out, however, that both groups had weapons and knew how to use them. Such knowledge of weapon development and use was passed down through generations, therefore both sides in the struggle were accustomed to fighting other people if not each other.
The thing is that we human critters are violent folks. We tend to use violence to meet many of our basic needs. Although we don’t have to use violence to meet our needs, we just do. This is not a complaint. This is just the way we are. Violence does not appear to be in our genes; it is learned behavior. Somewhere, in the far reaches of our collective past, our ancestors learned the call of the wild and the thrill of battle. Many of the games that we play today such as football as well as track and field events simulate combat although care is taken to minimize injury.
We are violent, and we love our violence. We love our violent sports, the most violent sports are the most popular sports in America. Again, that is not a negative criticism, it is simply a description of us. I have already stated in a previous column that I love to watch NFL games. We vets are proud of our (violent) military service in the name of God and country and we are rewarded for it. We like to say that violence is ingrained in our society as though members of American society have no choice other than to engage in violence. Birds migrate by instinct; salmon swim by instinct upriver to spawn. Humans do not engage in instinctive behavior; humans learn the behaviors in which we engage, Violence is taught in our society, it is not, somehow, “ingrained.”
Violence is socially acceptable in America in our sports, our movies, our music and so on. Violence is also acceptable in our language and in our collective imagery as Americans. We take pride in envisioning ourselves, with justification, as the most powerful nation in the world. Violence remains, however, one of the least effective ways to settle disagreements be they between individuals or between nations. We Americans are now dealing with the costs of resorting to violence in the past without considering the realistic consequences.
We believe that we are created in God’s own image. Whether that means a physical image or a spiritual image is a discussion for another day. Frankly, I have a difficult time seeing God as a fullback. Either way, It is important to remember that being human means that we learn how to do the things we do. We do not engage in instinctive behavior. Mentally sound humans do not engage in uncontrollable violence.
Peace and God Bless