Here’s the thing… most people agree that war is a bad thing. Most people agree that peace and love and hugs are inherently better than war and hate and punches.
So if most people agree peace is better, why do we have so much trouble maintaining peace?
Well, it’s because we refuse to accept one harsh truth about the universe…
Peace is not natural. Violence is natural.
Everything in nature is violent. Everything. Chimps are cute animals, but in the wild, they’re brutal creatures who kill each other constantly, just to maintain dominance. Lions regularly kill cubs when they join a pride. If a deer population is left completely unchecked, those deer will ultimately destroy the environment in which they live.
It’s true all the way down to a molecular level. The cells in our bodies are constantly attacking and killing each other.
Nature is a violent, brutal thing where killing is the norm, not the exception.
And we’re part of nature. We’re just an unchecked species that is growing too big for its environment.
Violence is our natural state.
And that’s where the problem comes in. Humans regularly make two major mistakes when it comes to peace:
1. We think peace is a prize. It’s not. Peace isn’t something you achieve. Peace isn’t something you win. Peace requires constant maintenance. Peace is not a our natural state. We have to spend years of negotiations to achieve peace, then we have to work to keep it… but a war can start from a single action. That’s because war is natural for us. Peace isn’t. And because it isn’t, we have to work hard to get it and even harder to keep it. This is precisely why America keeps losing wars. We think we can go to these war-torn parts of the world, win a few battles, then relax and say, “Boy, I’m glad that’s over.” But the people who live in those areas understand that war is the natural state of existence. We go to these places expecting the wars to end, but the people we’re fighting know that war will never end. It’s a way of life. Peace is just a temporary reprieve. So they have far more endurance when it comes to war. We get war-weary. They don’t.
2. We think “natural” always equals “better”. Here’s a news flash for you… nature is not inherently good. Rape is natural. Every other animal in the animal kingdom does it. That doesn’t mean rape is a good thing. It obviously is not. As human beings, we have the ability to feel empathy for other living creatures. That gives us the responsibility to overcome our natural instincts when it comes to harming another living thing. The same is true with war. Just because war is our natural state does not mean war is something we have to accept. We don’t have to accept it.
The bottom line is this… We’ll never achieve a lasting peace in this world until we accept that achieving and maintaining peace is going against nature. Then we have to accept that – sometimes – going against nature is the right thing to do.
Peace isn’t a destination. We don’t get to peace, then kick back and enjoy the fruits of our labors.
Peace is an extremely fragile thing that requires nonstop maintenance. And if we don’t provide that maintenance, it’ll crumble, every time.
And until we realize that, I’m afraid we’ll always be sending our children off to die in unnecessary wars… because that’s what comes naturally to us.