“Modern humans (Homo sapiens or Homo sapiens sapiens) are the only extant members of the hominin clade, a branch of great apes characterized by erect posture and bipedal locomotion; manual dexterity and increased tool use; and a general trend toward larger, more complex brains and societies.” Quote from Wikipedia
The above is a scientifically accurate answer to the question: what is a human? It isn’t, however, the answer to what we really want to know. The real question is, why do humans spend so much of their time trying to destroy other humans?
Throughout history, there hasn’t been a period of time during which humans have not been at war with other humans. There are currently around 11 wars in progress in which there are over 1000 deaths per year together with a further 33 conflicts in which there has been a death toll of at least 25 with one of those deaths being within the past year (source)
There seems to be four main causes of war: Religion; Territory; Oppression and Self Defence. Take any one of these reasons, add in some cleverly crafted propaganda and biased news reports and you have it, war.
Even if you move away from the extremes of war, you find conflict almost everywhere you look. Someone is always annoyed about something; person X did something to person Y and now they’re not talking; people cannot learn to “agree to disagree”. There are even people who seem to thrive so wholly on conflict, if there isn’t any drama in their lives they will create it. It is this conflict we each have an ability to change.
Children learn about many things in school, algebra, statistics, how to read a book in such minute detail it’s no longer enjoyable and other such skills which, unless you want to be in a particular job such as an astrophysicist, don’t really have any application in the “real world”. I think a better society would be created if children were taught the importance of communication; humility; tolerance; compassion. Instead of being taught how to debate, teach conflict resolution. Although children do work things out for themselves eventually, a vast proportion of adults still deal with conflict like children. They take the easy option, more often than not delivering bad news or unkind words via text message or via social media rather than talking with the person face to face. People bitch seemingly ALL THE TIME about someone or something but have no intention of actually doing anything about it. If the foundations of how to properly deal with this were taught at a young age, most conflicts could get resolved in a relatively peaceful manner.
I am sure everyone can think of at least one example of a conflict in their lives which, instead of being resolved, has spiralled out of control and has reached the point of no return. Although lives are not lost in the same sense as they are during war, lives can be, albeit temporarily, destroyed. Unresolved conflict leads to thinking, which leads to rumination: an open door to depression. Rumination is something I am currently guilty of. I have lost a lot of friends and some family members recently due to people being unwilling to discuss or attempt to resolve conflict. It seems they would rather ignore what has happened, pretend I never existed and completely sever contact. Whist I appreciate that a face to face discussion may not “fix” the issues, at least I would know that we had tried. That everyone knew exactly why things are the way they are and everyone had an opportunity to explain their “side” of the story. Instead, I am ruminating, having these imaginary conversations in my head, trying to make sense of what has happened and never getting the answers. It becomes easy to wholly blame myself even though I know rationally that isn’t the case and the downward spiral resumes.
I may just be dreaming up an ideal world, but I feel that if we as a species learned how to deal with our personal conflicts rationally rather than resorting to childish ways, this would branch out into other areas. If tolerance was taught from a young age, the differences in humanity would be accepted more readily and in turn there would, hopefully, be fewer wars.