War Should Not Be Natural, Peace Should Need Reason by Mackenzie Armstrong
Hierarchies rule life on this blue and green planet. Animals are all subject to a chain of consumption and humans are all separated according to differences in blood, money, power and seemingly every other aspect of the human experience. These hierarchies could be considered the natural process of things, and therefore inevitable, but at what point do these divisions become reality due to conscious decisions. Are the classes (economic, social, etc.) of the human race due to the biological superiority of some people over others? Is war unavoidable because our genetic makeup encourages us to fight for dominance? We cannot use nature as an excuse to do the things that are ethically incorrect. Of course, some people are smarter than others, but superior intelligence does not imply a superior being. Human beings may not be all equal in the same specific trait, but we are all equal in the summation of our parts. That person who cannot do calculus may have an innate ability to make people smile. That person who cannot make a single person smile may be able to understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The many people who cannot understand Einstein’s theory may be able to throw darts with extreme accuracy or eat hotdogs at a grotesquely rapid speed. In summary, evolution has done a very fine job on us. We went from being the ape, as simply a spectator of a world we could not drastically explore nor understand, to being the Homo erectus—and then the world was ours. In relative terms, standing was as much of a feat for an evolving species as it was for you as a baby. Walking upright gave us the most usual tool of all: our hands. We didn’t just choose one day to stand upright—survival demanded it. Not to stand was not to attain necessary resources and means to avoid extinction. So we adapted. What would we do with this upgrade, this new power? We would do different, unfamiliar tasks, which would demand the development of our brain, and we would slowly evolve into the ‘perfect’ being we are today. Charles Darwin told us that natural processes selected the traits that we Homo sapiens possess. We are what we are because over time our traits increased the chances for reproduction and for survival. It is dangerous to misinterpret this theory. Just because those traits have allowed you and I to exist, for me to write this column and for you to read it, does not mean these traits are fixed. We may have a deep, unconscious drive to kill to protect our food, but that does not mean you would be justified to strangle a stranger for stealing a slice of your mother’s lemon meringue pie. Natural selection may guide us to the summit of one hierarchy or another, therefore giving us a greater chance to endure, but we should not accept these traits as the inevitable. Can we justify our actions by owing them to what is considered ‘natural’? No, we cannot because our genes do not rule over us with an absolute power. It is we who ultimately decide “to be or not to be”, as the Bard once wrote. It is we who ultimately decide to go to war or to have peace. We have the power to consciously suppress a faction of our society or to celebrate them. Let us have peace and let us celebrate one and other because, presently, what threatens our survival as a species does not require aggression to overcome. Climate change demands a collective adaptation. I just hate to think that humanity needs a reason to want peace.