New War Breaks Out-Human Nature on display

The news has many reports on the new war between Israel and Hamas here is a link to CNNs coverage:

When something like this happens it is still a shock to me even though it seems inevitable that new conflicts will break out especially in highly contended parts of the world. How can such atrocities happen again and again? Human nature. There are complicated forces acting on individuals and groups that drive these events. Boiling it down to “human nature” is an oversimplification of the situation but taking it a step further and identifying specific traits that are factors in starting this conflict and in the responses that we see as it unfolds may be have some use.

When we say a behavior is human nature in the context of this website, what we mean is that these types of human behavior are pervasive across time and culture. We see them in the news every day. It is human nature to stake out territory and defend it against other groups. It is human nature to create an us vs them mentality. It is human nature to strike out when we feel oppressed or when our territory or security is threatened. One of the darkest parts of our human nature is revealed when retaliating to a perceived threat. We must “eliminate the threat”. It may seem obvious but these are the basic forces at work here.

Another basic human trait is the desire to solve problems, find solutions. Unfortunately there is no solution to our human nature. It is ingrained in us. Our only hope is that the rational side of us can recognize this internal threat and appeal to the more constructive aspects of our nature, such as caring and cooperation, especially in times of threat and conflict. We must vere away from the us vs them mentality. We must see attacks and acts of violence as a result of a human defect that boil over in us when we are put under strain and work to relieve those strains on our fellow human beings so that there is less pressure to resort to those base violent aspects of our nature.

For now, the temporary balance has been destroyed in the Gaza-Israel region. Humanity is resorting to the most basic use of force to restore some kind of stability to the situation. In the meantime more resentment and hate will grow on both sides. At some point, force will reestablish a “new order”. When this happens we know that it has to address the concerns of all sides for security and well being in an ongoing and good faith way or the cycle will continue. Can we humans achieve this state? It doesn’t look good right now.

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