VIOLENCE AND PEACE

Violence is deeply rooted in our psyche. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. We have indeed evolved to kill. It is also a fact that we have learnt to live without killing. We no doubt have inclinations toward violence, but, we also incline towards empathy, cooperation and self-control. Our inner violence erupts when we can’t live up to our expectations. Violence erupts when we can’t use what we have. The unspent energy undergoes a process of change, and is transformed into destructive energy. And we have known that destructiveness is the outcome of an unlived life. The more we can fulfil our unrealised potential, the more we are at peace. Violence arises due to conflicts in our beliefs, ideologies and culture. It is a social phenomenon, and is associated with factors like income inequality, racial discrimination, population density, political instability, among others. Men are known to be more violent than women. This is because men have evolved to compete more intensively than women in the race for status and material wealth. This competitive kindling is more “combustible in men of low socioeconomic status in regions of high social inequality, suffused with a sense of everything to gain and little to lose.” To diffuse violence, we try to compromise and cooperate. Steven Pinker, the author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, thinks the world is becoming more peaceful. The fact is that human violence started dropping thousands of years ago, says Pinker. There was a time when in our society thirst for justice was met with revenge, and that spurred violence. According to Pinker, state-building, developments in justice, education and literacy, mobilisation by various interest groups, and better infrastructure and technology have played a big role in reducing violence. We tend to overestimate our grievances, while underestimate those of others. This tendency has not completely wiped out over the years, but certainly has lessened, and, thus, has lowered violent eruptions. The ground rules of violence are now different. We use language more than the weapons for ebbing violence. Self-control is one of our virtues. Mastery of self-control recedes violence. It, however, doesn’t hold ground in many situations. Timothy Snyder writes, “Even if each generation is brighter than the last, as Pinker believes, being smart is not the same thing as being just.” Some of Pinker’s arguments also don’t make sense to John Gray. He believes recurrent violence is a result of the normal disorder of human life. Even if humans were not moved by the pursuit of power and glory, scarcity and uncertainty would drive them repeatedly into conflict with one another.