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IS VIOLENCE INHERENT TO HUMAN NATURE?

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I would like to start this essay with one simple yet important question. ‘Is violence inherent to human nature?’ As Steven pinker once said “With violence as with so many other concerns, human nature is the problem, but human nature is also the solution.” In his 2002 book “The Blank Slate”, Steven Pinker also wrote that men in particular bear the marks of “an evolutionary history of violent male-male competition”. This means that our ancestors were violent and have been passing down this trait through all generations. This is the reason we have wars. This is the reason innocent people are dying, only because of this one trait that has been passed down through generations. So, is the solution to accept violence as a part of human nature or to rid ourselves of this trait altogether? That is what we will be looking at today.

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Let’s start with a simple question. Has being violent helped humans at all? For the answer to this we shall be looking at how human beings have reacted violently to past situations and has this helped them at all.

First we will be looking at looking at the Battle of Stalingrad which is thought to be the bloodiest battle in the Second World War. It caused about two million casualties from Soviet and Axis forces and stands as one of the century’s worst military disaster. This was in the Second World War and the Second World War took place only because of the political takeover in 1933 of Germany by Hitler and his Nazi Party and its aggressive foreign policy. If Hitler hadn’t done that, he would have saved the lives of over 60 million people. However, the biggest advances in science and technology took place in the Second World War. So in this case violence led to good and bad consequences.

Coming back to our main topic, ‘is violence inherent to human nature?’ the Second World War only took place because of violence. Almost every single war took place because of violence. So human beings are violent. But according to some sources human beings aren’t violent and they only do what they have to do to survive. I think that this was the case before but now it seems as if we do violent things only for power. Now human beings only want to compete with each other as to who has more power. However many individuals — and whole cultures — manage quite well without behaving aggressively. This leads to the question, ‘Which cultures and countries have survived without behaving aggressively?’ We shall be looking at the example of Costa Rica. On December 1, 1948, Costa Rican President Jose Figueres made a symbolic display of bashing a hole into the nation’s soon to be shuttered military headquarters, Cuartel Bellavista. The compound would be transformed into a national art museum and the military budget would be diverted to health care, education, and environmental protection. Today, Costa Rica has local police forces, but no national army. According to the seeker “Costa Rica also happens to be one of the happiest places on earth -perhaps related to its lack of a military.”

This means that individuals or cultures that aren’t violent are also happy and also provide a good environment for human beings to live in. But where would human beings be without violence? I think that we would be living in a very simple and peaceful world where war would not be welcomed. But would that have helped? Would we have been better off without violence? After all, most of the technologic advancements took place in the Second World War. Computers, Radars, Radios, aircraft carriers even penicillin, all were invented in the Second World War. Could we have lived without these? I don’t think so. Without penicillin we would have no way of curing headaches (which I am having at the time of writing this). Without computers we would have almost no way of discovering news and we would have had to write important files. Without radios there would have been no televisions and we would not have been able to keep up to date with all the important going ons in the world.

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