One question which has always bothered me–and an awful lot–is why people go to war?
Are warmongers and peaceniks really two different species?
The history of war and weapons is as old as the history of mankind itself. Every culture has stories of wars and the glory of its warriors. It has been in existence since the dawn of civilization.
However, there must be something that goes beyond the warmonger mindset?
Human society cannot produce warmongers across cultures and across the expanse of time. If it does, logically it should produce even a larger number of peaceniks.
Thinking deeper about it one realizes that war is mostly between good and bad or right and wrong. But thinking even deeper one realizes that everyone can be right in their own frame of reference. But it’s pretty impossible that everyone will have the same frame of reference. So does this mean people will always keep on fighting? Unfortunately such would seem to be the case.
One’s worldview can be very limited if you build it looking only at a very small sample space. When I was growing up in Jaipur, the sample space was very limited. People were generally nice and communication that came through word of mouth held a lot of value. There were definitely bad apples there, but the proportion of them I think was pretty limited. There was also violence, but it was limited to a certain section of society. A section which the British termed “martial race.” I come from a slightly martial community and my grandfather was a soldier.
When I came to Delhi for my studies, the sample space became larger. The good part about this was that I existed in a very isolated environment at IIT. But still, you could see the effect that big city culture had.
My sample space actually did not increase substantially until I started doing business in 2006. It was a revelation. I started seeing extreme behaviors on both sides. On one side, there were people who came out of nowhere to help me. I have always been thankful to them and even wrote a blog post about it called “Attitude vs Gratitude.”
What became most interesting was the number of bad apples I started to see and their abundance around me. The obvious factor to cause people to behave unethically was and is greed, I believe. But then, there are subtle factors like laziness and boredom, and the many ideologies derived from socialism.
Coming back to the inevitability of wars, what human society can do is to change its basic form. I remember our school teacher was fond of the term “Manasa, Vacha, Karmana,” i.e., from mind, words or body. These are the three ways people act, so these are the three ways people fight.
Physical conflict can be completely avoided, I do believe. At best it should be replaced with Legal Fight. But Legal Fight should be supplemented by moral laws. However, history has proven time and again that legality and morality can be at odds with each other. Even societies in the farthest corners of the world have adopted laws to suit their own convenience. It was not long ago that slavery was legal in a large part of the planet. So was apartheid. How it’s done is to hide behind lopsided logic.
Next comes verbal conflict, but it should be limited to the debate level.
Last but not the least is the mental component. One good example of this is one observing when he/she goes deeper into meditation. For in our inner self there is always a war going on. War between good and bad. Here the definition of good and bad is simpler. Because Mother Nature decided it. If there is any mental or physical act which gives peace to you as well as to others, it is a good act. If an act does exactly the opposite, then it is bad.