[Sayma-Discuss] [Sayma-Announce] Fw: my latest newspaper column

Deanna Nipp-Kientz aCertainGirl at charter.net
Thu Dec 29 10:22:57 PST 2011

Wow!  So well done.  Thank you.

Deanna Nipp-Kientz
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Joe Parko 
  To: SAYMA list 
  Sent: Thursday, December 29, 2011 10:33 AM
  Subject: [Sayma-Announce] Fw: my latest newspaper column

  my latest newspaper column
  Joe Parko
  Crossville Friends Meeting

  December 27, 2011

  WE THE PEOPLE: We are not made for war

  By Joe Parko Chronicle contributor

  CROSSVILLE — Many people think that war is inevitable. They justify their belief by adding that war is "part of human nature" or "in our genes." But is it really? 
The latest research shows there is nothing in the archaeological record supporting the claim that our ancestors have been waging war against each other for hundreds of thousands, let alone millions, of years. The first clear-cut evidence of warfare appears just 14,000 years ago. The evidence takes the form of rock art in Australia, Europe and elsewhere depicting battles with spears, clubs and bows and arrows; and settlements clearly fortified for protection against attacks.
War emerged very late in human history when humans shifted from a nomadic existence to a settled one that was commonly tied to agriculture. Archaeologist Brian Ferguson of Rutgers University says, "With a vested interest in their lands, food stores and rich fishing sites, people could no longer walk away from trouble. What's more, with settlement came the production of surplus crops and the acquisition of valuable objects through trade. All of a sudden, people had far more to lose, and to fight over, than their hunter-gatherer forebears.”
So rather than being a product of our genes, it looks like warfare emerged in response to a changing environment. 

  Archaeologist Steven LeBlanc of Harvard University says that war is not a biological compulsion but, rather, is a response to environmental conditions such as swelling populations and dwindling food supplies. 
 A surprising finding of the research is that there has been a steady decline in the number of wars since ancient times. "Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history," says Steven Pinker of Harvard University. We mistakenly believe that war is more prevalent now than in the past because, unlike in the past, we have instantaneous televised coverage of wars around the globe.  The fact is that the number of wars has actually been decreasing over the last few centuries. Pinker gives several reasons for the decline of wars in general: First, the creation of stable nations with effective legal systems and police forces. Second, the prospect of longer life expectancies and a better quality of life that makes us less willing to risk our lives through violence. Third, increasing globalization and improvements in communications technology, which have increased our interdependence with, and understanding towards, those outside of our immediate "tribes.” 

  Understanding the environmental conditions that promote war also suggests ways to limit it. LeBlanc points out that the modern focus of human competition — and the warfare that can accompany it — has shifted away from food to energy. One of the keys to peace, he suggests, is developing reliable alternatives to fossil fuels. Another key to peace is education that promotes tolerance and non-violent conflict resolution.

  Any announcement of the end of warfare would be premature. At the very least, though, we can confidently reject the fatalistic belief that war is innate in human nature. That assumes "we're some kind of robots where aggressive genes force us to pick up knives and guns like zombies and attack each other without any thoughts going through our heads," says Pinker.

  War is not in our genes. The research shows that we were not created for war. The fact that the military has to put soldiers through months of intensive training in order to get them to kill another human being is a further indication that we are not born for war. And if warfare is not innate then, surely, neither is it inevitable. The fact is that humanity’s ability to reason and to cooperate has been, and will continue to be, our key to survival. Our genes do not cause war. We have the power to avoid war by using our minds instead of our weapons. A good place to start using our minds is to think about the future and to tell Congress to cut our huge weapons budget and to use the money to develop renewable energy sources instead of more weapons so that we won’t have to fight more wars to keep the oil flowing from the Middle East. As we celebrate this Christmas season, let Christians show that we truly follow the Prince of Peace by actually working for peace. The war in Iraq is over and we need to end the war in Afghanistan. Call Congress today and tell them to reduce our massive weapons budget and to use the money to promote peace and prosperity here instead of war and destruction over there. It’s time for America to stop spending almost half its annual budget on war and weapons. It’s time to start beating our swords into plowshares. 


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