Although we have previously published a note, on the topic of human conflict and warfare, the existential subject, unhappily, seems to remain eternally relevant, and permissibly, worthy of repetition [“redux”].
Mankind’s entire historical record, consisting of, Treaties, Accords, Entente Cordials, and the establishment of two peace-seeking, World Organizations, have uniformly, failed to eliminate, or significantly ameliorate, the pathology of warfare, and have, each, in turn, provided at best, bandages, temporarily stopping the relevant bleeding. To eliminate the deadly, (and, we submit, avoidable) plague, of human conflict and ensuing warfare, as is necessarily indicated, in respect to all pathologies, an investigation of the underlining etiology is fundamentally necessary. Unless one examines the underlying, basic causes of human warfare, the best of well-intentioned efforts, can continue to be only palliative and temporary.
We do not agree with certain classic philosophers, like, Thomas Hobbes, or with celebrated novelists, like Victor Hugo, who wrote that man, is innately, a beast. We are, by contrast, ardent believers in the philosophy of Sir John Locke. It was Locke, the great British, 19th Century thinker, who famously said, man is born with a “tabula Rasa,” [a blank slate] and, that all knowledge is derived, exclusively, from his learning experience and empirical life. It appears to be incontrovertibly rational, to believe that a baby, is born, possessed, at most, of a primitive, natural inclination for survival and safety, but certainly not with any imbued, preconceptions. Because we see this as unassailable truth, we have been led to confidently and consistently, maintain that the root, or primary cause, of human conflict and ultimate warfare, owes its origin, to lessons taught and learned, at an early age.
In our earlier writing, we advanced the fundamental observation, that every newborn homo sapiens, acquires his particular ethnos and fundamental beliefs, by the mere accident of birth; thus, an infant, born, by chance, into a Muslim family, predictably, will thereafter, be acculturated and raised, within the Muslim tradition, and the Islamic religion, a baby, born, by like chance, to Christian parents, will be brought up in the Christian tradition and religion, and so on. The belief system and folkways, (as per John Locke), were not, in some fashion, imprinted in the infant prior to birth. All knowledge, possessed by a child, is acquired by his early experience, and parental, or surrogate, teaching.
It has been our firm understanding and confident determination, that the very worst proclivity of man, viz., to make lethal war on other human beings, has its origin or etiology, ironically, during one of mankind’s most commendable inclinations, that of the rendition of loving care and nurturance, to the child. Our unique statement, may seem, counter-intuitive, [perhaps even, irrational] but it has indeed, been our firm belief and declaration, as set forth, below.
Every baby, inarguably, is born into a specific household by happenstance; one identifiable by a particular ethnos and belief system. He will, early on, acquire an identity, folkways and a belief system, similar, if not identical, to that of that of the household. It is at this singular stage, at which, as we have, firmly, declared, that the seeds of future discord, are predictably sowed. The mother, family member, or other surrogate, will naturally and responsibly, tutor the new child in the beliefs and traditions of his newly acquired family. This is done, as part of a proper course of child nurturance, to afford to him, a needed sense of identity and belonging. It is in these lessons, however, that often, such seeds of discord, presaging a mortal harvest are sowed. The teachings of the applicable ethnic identity and beliefs, are all too often, made qualitatively, and in contrast, (implied, or expressed), with peoples of differing beliefs, ethnic and religious. Early, well intentioned, but insensitive, comparative lessons of “we” and “they” are, in fact, the very poisonous seeds that take root and grow into the dreaded, mortal harvest. The young child, comfortable in his feelings of security of membership in his instructed ethnos, takes pride, together with his contemporaries, in their joint (“we”) affiliation; but, in time, learns to look upon others, of divergent belief systems, religion, race or folkways, (“them”) with feelings of curiosity, later, conceivably, morphing [often, with the encouragement of others of his ethnos] into critical comparison, then dislike, caricature and, often, ultimately, to hatred, leading to ensuing conflict.
It is the taught, “we” and “they” mantra, we are confident, that is ultimately responsible for mankind’s warfare. Once enculturated into this distinct, and ultimately, destructive, catechism, man has, historically, behaved at his worst. It is our belief, that, regardless of any and all, overtly publicized, purported attribution of the causes of any war, such as trespass, territory, religious, militant threats, ports, water and natural resources, geopolitics, preserving justice, or any other, fundamentally, the underlying cause of all war, is that murderous duo, “we” and “they.” There are as many examples, as there are wars.
The signature illustration of our principle (out of a great many), is the seemingly, never ending, bloody, conflict, between the Shia and the Sunni Moslems. History reveals, that, as far back as the 7th Century, there was contention, as to whether the Great Prophet, Mohammad, should properly be succeeded by a blood relative, as in England, or, alternatively, by popular election. Each of these two warring groups, has, historically supported the divergent mode of succession, and so, centuries ago, declared war against the other. The bloody war has continued to rage on, with death and human atrocities, remarkably, into the modern age. No rational, persuasive argument can be made, to the effect, that the 7th Century issue, concerning a disputed mode of succession, is the cause of this eternally continuing, (fourteen Centuries) bloody war. The evident cause, is the multi- generational continuance of the “we” and the “they” mantra. The mortal seeds in this case, is the errant continuation of an early taught lesson, concerning the religious differences of opinion, which germinate, and, inevitably, produces a predictable, mortal harvest.
We do not, maintain, to any degree, that young children, should not be early taught the traditions of their acquired ethnic culture. Experience teaches us, that diversity adds gifts of quality and perspective to mankind. A monochromatic painting would be of little interest to any viewer. The salient point, however, is the mandatory need, to maintain an awareness of perspective, and sensitivity, to the dangers of imparting, ultimately, an injurious message, in the process of assistance to the child, in his necessary acquisition of communal identity, and sense of belonging. Care is to be responsibly exercised, in teaching, as well, something of the diverse ways, and virtues, of other cultures, most significantly, their acceptability, as an equally legitimate part, of the planet’s diverse family of man.
There is a valuable admonition, which appears in the Christian Bible, and we are quite sure, elsewhere: “As you sow, so shall you reap.” The seeds, to be planted, for any future, bountiful harvest, must be seeds which germinate into collective peace and mutual acceptance, and not thoughtless, and insensitive, divisive seeds of discord and continued mortal harvest.