Sunday, June 8, 2008

How to Transform Our Violent Dark Side?

Aggression and violence are basic human characteristics, which, having been developed over millions of years of evolution, are difficult to modify. They are always present, simmering below our veneer of civilization. When the going gets tough we instinctively resort to primal behaviour, especially if defending our families or "tribes." That explains the atrocities besetting Africa, witness Darfur and Rwanda, where violence rages and civil order has crumpled.

Our violent behaviour not only inflicts huge human misery, but the related corruption, marauding gangs and bribery prevent other nations from providing assistance. It seems hopeless.

How can we change this dark side of human nature? There is no quick solution. I suggest that universities and think tanks divert significant funding from technological research onto issues that will improve our social skills. The world doesn't need more hi-tech gadgets, rather we desperately need to replace materialism and aggression with social skills including how to live peacefully, how to share, how to be happy, how to erase poverty, how to govern in a fair and equitable manner and more.

Sadly, I don't think this will happen soon enough. Instead, with human population continuing to grow ever further beyond what the planet can support, I believe that society will soon suffer a meltdown. We will likely enter a dark age with great loss of life and suffering. Pockets of civilization will survive but in a much simpler fashion. When humans flourish again, hopefully we will have learned a lesson and will be wiser and less violent. Who knows, it may take several collapses and rebirths before Homo sapiens develops the character that allows us to live in equilibrium and peace with each other and the natural world.

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