The Evolution of Nonviolence

In an interesting new study, it was found that humans are likely the most violent mammal species, with humans killing each other much more than other mammals do.  Roughly 60 percent of mammals do not commit intraspecies killing, but humans kill each other at the rate of nearly 2 percent.  During the Middle Ages, 12 percent of human deaths were from human violence, the worst period for such brutality in our history.  However, the good news that this study brings us is that over the last century, human violence has reduced by about one third, worldwide!  In some places in the world, it’s even lower.

 

This prehistoric level of lethal violence has not remained invariant but has

changed as our history has progressed, mostly associated with changes

in the socio-political  organization of human populations. This suggests

that culture can modulate the phylogenetically inherited lethal violence

in humans.

 

 

As people have organized themselves into state societies with the legal use of violence monopolized by the government, interpersonal violence has decreased.  The legal and interpersonal social pressure in these societies is sufficient to prevent most instances of violence, resulting in a more peaceful community than in earlier types of societies, such as tribal societies.

Because the darkness is genetic, it will not go away for many long ages; nevertheless, we can see the value of civilization and the moral teachings of our religions – we are indeed more peaceful than when we began.  For me, this is a source of hope and joy.  Look at what we’ve done!  See how far we’ve come!  It allows me to believe that we can overcome our current obstacles and move forward peaceably, creating a better society, the society of our dreams.

 

Copyright © 2016 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.

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