So yesterday MDA had an article on violence that talked about something I've been wondering for a while.
If you look at recorded history and the archaeological record, it's plain that mankind has a history of violence, like pretty much every other animal out there. Questions of whether or not war is right, necessary, or inevitable aside, do you think that violence is a basic part of the primal human existence?
Taking myself as an example, I practice Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and mosh at metal and hardcore shows. Since taking these up, I have as a whole felt healthier and happier in a way that goes beyond that I could ascribe to the benefits of basic exercise. Most fellow martial artists I've asked feel the same way: sparring is one of the most fun things any of us ever do.
Personally, I believe that at least most men and likely many women have an instinct for violence, and having a controlled outlet for it (as opposed to, say, street fights or tribal warfare) is beneficial to mental health.
Or perhaps it's just me and a few others who have a violent instinct, and finding such a controlled outlet just prevents us from getting in trouble (though I was never much for fighting until taking up said violent hobbies).
What's your experience?
I have practiced Aikido for over 20 years. In our modern lives there is rarely the need for actual violence, but Nature is violent, at least my human definition. Nature is not rules by laws or morals it is what it is, brutally hard to survive, constant struggle, killing to procure food or being killed to be consumed as food. Humans are unique in that we have learned to suppress a lot of our natural instincts, strip us of our civilized constraints (Lord of the Flies is an interesting book) and we rapidly revert to what we truly are. It is why we are drawn to blood sports and other violent spectator activities, it's in our nature but we are controlled by morals, laws, the paradigm of culture & civilization. Some of the most popular video game ever produced are based on war, same with movies. Conflict is what makes a movie interesting or its boring.
I was born & raised on a farm, hunted and experienced more of nature than the average person. Some would say its the cycle of life. I accept nature for what it is. I consider myself to be a non violent person by nature, I see no use in MMA, wrestling, etc as entertainment, but as a single father whose has raised my son since he was 4 months old, if someone hurts him or does anything to harm him in anyway then a side of me instinctively emerges that would be considered primal and violent, with one single minded purpose to protect my blood. My Native American animal totem guide is the Buffalo - which is strong and reliable and protects the smaller, weaker family members.
I don't know if I have the violent instinct, but I'm going to find out! Tucker's presentation has inspired me to check out my local MMA academy; hoping it'll be a good way to blow off some steam.
There is some theory that some humans have a "warrior gene"(or genes more likely) that predisposes them to aggression. It would be interesting to see if DNA from paleolithic humans has this/these allele(s) and whether or not fewer humans these days have it. In 10,000 Year Explosion they theorize that fewer humans would have such genes these days thanks to the selection effects of civilization, such as capital punishment of murderers, but it's possible there are many dimensions of aggression and civilization might have selected for the equivalent of inter-tribal aggression by rewarding soliders.
Either way, my own experience makes me very sympathetic to this idea. In my family, play is typically quite aggressive and even as little girls my sister and I fought quite boisterously. In many modern schools, aggressive children are punished and maligned, which I think is unfair. It's often made worse in school as competitive activities and physical activity during school hours have been much reduced. I think these are important in helping people predisposed to aggression to develop ways to channel their behaviors constructively.
I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido and practiced jeet kun do and tai chi chuan for quite a long time. The main thing I learned from martial arts is I never ever want to fight anyone physically or mentally. I see a lot of mma guys who just have this killer instinct which is not healthy in my opinion. This killer instinct is partially responsible for the mess the world is in. Almost all politicians have this killer instinct which has lead our world into total chaos!
This is a troubling trend in the paleo world.
One of the most particularly disturbing aspects for me going to eating meat was the aggressive behavior of certain vegan activists on the internet. As someone who had gravitated to vegetarianism for the non-violent aspects, I was dishearted to see such ugliness from people who say they don't want to kill.
I do not think we should encourage violence. I would like to hang out with a bunch of Paleo Buddhists instead.
You are correct that The current thinking is a certain amount of violence is probably encouraged by our DNA, especially in males.
How we deal with that, though, seems to me to be a more individual thing. There are certainly people who seem to be well-served by expressing urges that are anti-social in contemporary society in more circumscribed and socially acceptable ways. Martial arts, target shooting, etc.
But the logic that this approach is best for all or most people makes-- I think-- a number of Freudian psychological assumptions that I don't totally buy. Human beings, contrary to current cultural mythologizing, can be very good at healthfully subliminating all sorts of things. It works for me, quite frankly. The most aggressive I get is occasional bursts of yelling at inanimate objects. Well, I do like to shoot firearms now and again, too....
Still, though, I think we underestimate repression. Example: It is beginning to be understood that the wave of grief counseling inflicted on the inhabitants of NYC after the WTC attack had only one notable outcome: The enrichment of grief counselors. Perhaps many New Yorkers would have been better off if they just buried their traumatic memories rather than succumbing to the conventional wisdom that such things must be recovered and expressed or people will blow a gasket.
Humans didn't get to where we are now by "playing nice" with other creatures or with eachother. Going way way back, we were likely forced into violence because of Neanderthals. One interesting theory is by a guy called Danny Vendramini who spent along time studying Neanderthals. He believes Neanderthal Predation (NP) theory - the Neanderthals were the original boogie men in the night, who hunted homo sapiens. Think about it - slow, lacking horns and much weaker than themselves - humans were an easy target and males could have also raped the human females. Living in such times would definitely cause one to resort to violence and over scores of generations shape humans into what we became.
Them and Us: how Neanderthal predation created modern humans begins with a radical reassessment of Neanderthal behavioural ecology. He cites new archaeological and genetic evidence to show they weren't docile omnivores, but savage, cannibalistic carnivores - top flight predators of the stone age.
Neanderthal Predation (NP) theory reveals that Neanderthals were 'apex' predators - who resided at the top of the food chain, and everything else - including humans - was their prey.
NP theory is one of those groundbreaking ideas that revolutionizes scientific thinking. It represents a quantum leap in our understanding of human origins.
We humans are so far removed from our natural state and our natural selves as we evolved to be. We hunt & gather in flourescent overcast grocery store aisles. We watch violen tmovies & shows to satiate our natural prpensity for violence when a situation calls for violence (to kill food, to protect out family, etc). Humans are unique in that our violence can spread like a virus and infect entire towns, cities countries or even the entire world. We are better off accepting what humans naturally are, as we have only been 'civilized' for perhaps 10,000 years, before that we followed the Law of Nature and that will superceede and man made law in times of stress.
I definitely feel we are violent by nature, and I think we need a physical outlet for it to be true to our nature and healthy. Every child I have known (ok more noticeable in boys) beats the tar out of their toys, wrestles around, and in general "plays violently". This seems to be an inborn trait. I've seen it in children who were never struck and rarely watch TV just as much as any other groups.
My outlet was wrestling which I did all the way through college. Now I have a heavy bag that I go to town on. I see nothing wrong with a good old fashion fist fight, although I wouldn't be involved these days as I'm far too mature :). Just saying though, take away the weapons and letting a couple of guys "settle it outside" is long lost art that I would like to see restored.
I think the food has everything to do with it on several levels. Prior to agriculture, there would have been no logical reason to be aggressive toward other humans; population was sparse. Agriculture brought about the need for labor (slavery); with populations growing there was animosity and insecurity about land and resources. And the unnatural food (grains) fueled the aggressive behavior and all of the associated emotions. I believe studies have shown that a large percentage of criminals are either vegetarian or heavy sugar consumers.
Let's also not confuse competitiveness with aggressiveness.
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