Evolving Beyond Natural Violence

If only animals had photosynthetic powers. The sun offers more energy than earthlings will ever need. The progression of predation from grazers to carnivores is natural. It involves violence mostly unavoidable. Creatures either depend on the energy of plants or on the energy of those dependent on the energy of plants.

Human beings, however, have a choice. I am not just talking about vegetarianism, as crucial as that is to the future of the planet. I’m talking about the predation which carried over from the consumption of energy of plants and creatures to the exploitation of people by other people. It is older than what we call civilization, and though not universal in prehistory, it has become the dominant paradigm in history. I refer you to The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow.

Karen Armstrong documents the use of violence in the first of empires in the Middle East, the Sumerian (Fields of Blood). Class structures created early on were maintained by violence and psychological manipulation. Beginning in some of the earliest societies, inequities have been built into the human psyche and supported by force.

‘History’ has been a long progression and documentation of this force and manipulation. Of course, it still goes on. But does it have to? Are we tending toward democracy and self-government? Will the autocrats and oligarchs win out in the long run? Will the inequities continue, or will a more egalitarian society emerge?

Self-governance, participation in democracy and nonviolence could lead us to a peaceful future. We might of necessity become a less selfish and consumption-oriented culture. We might need to find joy and fulfillment within ourselves and in our relationships with others and the earth, rather than in things, power, etc. We could consume fewer of nature’s resources and more of that which is human and renewable.

We could. We might. Let’s begin.