The most difficult thing for man to do is love unconditionally.

Unconditional love defies millions of years of evolutionary traits and survival instinct. Our predisposition to violence is hard wired into our brain, yet social conventions inhibit our violent instincts. We are in a constant struggle between our primitive survivalist nature and an enlightened, reasoning intellect. Only true dreamers, visionaries and heroes know the sacrifice necessary to love, but all of us have incredible potential.

Human Capacity for Violent Behavior

Predisposition towards violence

Violence is spurred on by our innate evolutionary instincts to survive. Necessitated by the harsh conditions our ancestors had to overcome including large predatory animals and hunting for food, but the most astounding aspect of violence in human nature is how we are more prevalent to be violent towards other humans. This comes from any number of evolutionary catalysts including competition for resources, defending territory and mating privileges.

Tiananmen Square Massacre

Over many years of human development we have come to control and organize our violent actions. Weapons and war drive our technological development. Some associate violence with glory and honor; to others it is the ultimate evil associated with infringement on the rights of others (rape, murder, etc.). Ironically enough the punishment for violence is violence.

Mankind has always fought and battled, killed, maimed and slaughtered. “We are appauled and fascinated by [our] violence.” It is a very natural part of our evolution. Now that we, more or less, understand the vastness of the universe could we stop being so socio-masochistic and start directing our violence away from each other and towards some of the more dangerous elements of the universe?

Thich Quang Duc

I don’t know if this is possible. We will always have underlying desires to inflict pain on one another. Whether a spurned advance of a potential partner or some other mistreatment, we can always justify violent action to ourselves because of the complex chemical balance which comprises emotion in our brains. To sedate and control these desires would make us something less than human. Ultimately it is up to each individual to control his or her own violent urges.

Deep within each of us, even the most practiced pacifist lies the dormant cognitive desires to fight and kill. Our brain houses the nucleus accumbens which releases dopamine when fighting.

Milgram Experiment

Whats perhaps most frightening about human violence is what happens when it is used in conjunction with social conformity as revealed by Stanley Milgram. “In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted one of the most important experiments ever done in the field of human psychology and social conformity.”1 In the experiments 65% of the participants agreed to administer up to fatal shocks to test subjects (learner), despite the learner’s urges and frequent attempts to cease the ‘experiment’.

Milgram Experiment

The reason for this was a authority figure who over shadowed the shock administrator (teacher) and instructed them to continue the experiment. BBC recently repeated a similar set of experiments in conjunction with psychologists and received parallel results.

At times we can’t control ourselves. What should be our guiding star? Conscience varies from person to person and the laws of social convention are only observed out of fear of repercussion, rather than a desire to achieve moral enlightenment and equality.

Its a confusing thing being human. Conflict is overpowering. Our desires are fueled by constantly fluctuating and delicate chemical balance. We hold our own fate in our hands in the form of self-control.

1. (“The Milgram Obedience Experiment.” Daylight Atheism | Big Think. Web. 01 Dec. 2011.)

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