Sunday, 7 August 2016

We are predators with good brains - so let's use them!

Messy business war. Bloody, savage, cruel and inevitable, war is one of only two constants that run throughout human history. Survival is the other: the continuation of our species for a few millimeters in the marathon of time.

We’ve not been around long and unless we see an evident simple truth that is not even in front of our eyes, but rather our eyes themselves, we’re not going to survive much longer.

Our eyes are on the front our our faces. We are predators, designed to kill. Fight or flight, hunter or prey, that’s the way it is in the animal kingdom, and we have evolved to look forwards: to kill.

We prefer to think we exist on some sort of higher plane than the beasts of the field, but we don’t. Yes, we’ve come up with Gandhi and Gucci, but still we need to kill each other.

Sometimes I wish (not very often) that Intelligent Design was real; that an omnipotent benevolent being made all the creatures and twiddled their evolutionary nobs.

If that were the case then we might have avoided the one way street of improvement that is the human race. Yes, tigers and sharks can eat us, spiders and snakes can do us harm, but essentially we’ve no other predator but each other. 

You can call it Top Of The Food Chain and feel all puffed up and proud of our cultural achievements if you want, but take a look around.

We’re killing each other.

Always have and sadly inevitably will, until we realise that war is in our nature. No, that doesn’t mean we’re bad people, nor does it negate our ability to love, to feel compassion and empathy for strangers in a way that is rare in nature.

However, until we cop on to the fact that we are biologically destined to hunt, and then use our superb sentient brains to act on that knowledge, nothing’s going to change.

Gandhi was possibly ahead of his time, while Gucci represents in capitalism one of the main reasons we choose war over wisdom. Untold billions are made in the manufacture and sale of military hardware, while the spoils of war come in the shape of oil refineries and gas fields, diamonds and gold.

Messy business indeed. Priests getting their throats cut, revellers mown down in the street and it’s so close to home and on TV all the time, it scares you. 

The media coverage equation has always worked by dividing the distance of the tragedy by how many of your own nationals are involved. Hence the Berkeley balcony scored blanket coverage, while the 87 people killed in Kabul yesterday barely got a mention.

The people of Nice and the priests of Normandy have you rushing to change your Facebook cover photo to the French flag, while the 14 children killed in Aleppo three days ago didn’t even register.

Did those people die in Kabul or Aleppo? You’ve no idea. They die out there all the time. It’s hard to keep up. 

They die in agony, ripped apart by bombs in markets, torn asunder in their beds at night, in wars that we either actively support or are culpable of by history and association.

Yet when these wars come to our countries everyone’s stunned and shocked.

Yes it’s appalling. It’s horrific, terrifying and wrong in many fundamental ways, but what the bloody hell did you expect?

Why did you think that those being delivered hell nightly from the skies might not seek revenge against their enemies?

Did you hope it was so far away it’d never really trouble you beyond a tut-tut-isn’t-that terrible now? over the 6-1 news?

Well get a nice Irish tricolour ready for your Facebook profiles and avoid the rush. Travelling through Shannon Airport every couple of months, I’m outnumbered 20-1 by US army uniforms in the Departure Lounge. 

Sipping my coffee I try to rid my mind of two words, legacies of a London childhood that ran in tandem with IRA bombing campaigns: legitimate target. I’m a legitimate target in that airport, with legions of soldiers all around me, and so therefore is Ireland.

No it’s not news. You’ve lost count of the lefty politicians and pacifists who’ve been arrested for climbing over the barbed wire onto the runway. You wondered why they bothered, just as you’ll be shocked and outraged the first time the war comes here.

‘What did we do the deserve this?’ you’ll ask with self-righteous indignation.

You did what the maxim says it takes for evil things to happen.
You did nothing.

War comes in many forms. Six years ago this colyoom was outraged by the French banning of the veil. While many of you have at best mixed feelings about the covering of female faces, it was clear that to many devout Muslim women, the banning of the veil felt like an act of war; another Crusader’s tactic to diminish, degrade and ultimately destroy Islam, their religion and their way of life.

Double Vision May 2010: "For crying out loud, this is dangerous stuff. We’re stoking up a holocaust, people … this is about the demonisation of a major world religion. Our leaders are fighting a Crusade and we are sitting back saying nothing. The West have decided that Islam is the enemy and Islam has taken up the fight"

We can maybe hope that a world run by women might undo the mess caused by men. 

Will Angela, Christine, Theresa and hopefully Hillary overcome their predatory instincts? Or, like Thatcher before them, will they feel the need to outman the men with yet more warmongering?

While there’s money to be made war will continue, but we can play our part for peace by no longer pretending we are not at war ourselves.

©Charlie Adley

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