Are humans born to live together?
I don't mean that humans are not social animals. Of course we are. But the three largest conflicts in history, World War II, Genghis Khan, and Mao Zedong, combined for almost 150 million deaths. Today, smaller wars continue to break out. Factor in genocides and crimes against humanity, and a case could almost be made that humans should not live with one another. Or at least, different clans are best separated.
Some people argue that this is merely coming from our animal instinct. Is that true?
According to a study done by National Geographic, perhaps, but not really. The study pointed out that highly social and territorial animals are the most likely to kill one another. So yes, hyenas, lemurs and prairie dogs also kill each other. But very few animals would actually kill an adult of its own kind, and more than 60% of mammal species are not known to kill one another.
Humans kill one another because we cannot get along in the same society. There are racial reasons. The holocaust alone destroyed more than 5 million lives. More than 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days in Rwanda. There are also ideological reasons. Christians call it a crusade, Muslims call it a jihad. Beyond gods, we go to war over capitalism, communism, monarchism, fascism and even Nazism.
We also slaughter to expand our territories. There are lands that are ripe for hunting and fertile for farming. Up to 100,000 indigenous Namibians were killed so that their colonizers could acquire their lands. There are natural resources that we could use. Some 200,000 East Timorese were murdered so that their lands and waters can be taken over for oil drilling.
We can even start a war over football. With new risks, such as climate change, there are now even more reasons to fight.
There are 100,000 ways that people cannot get along. So perhaps we really should not live together.
Or we can learn to understand why and how conflicts come about. Will humans ever fall into the category of mammals that don't kill each other? That is most certainly my dream.
This is part of the Can We Really Live Together? series.