Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Can aggression be superseded by reason?

The Guardian's Notes and Queries page asks today: Is human aggression inevitable, or can humankind ever reach the point where negotiation rather than fighting can be a solution?

Ritual sacrifice of humans to propitiate the gods was common in most ancient cultures, but began to die out in the Iron Age. Its passing is recorded in many myths and legends, typified by Abraham's decision to sacrifice a ram instead of his son. It is safe to assume that the priesthood of the day argued that cessation of human sacrifice would bring about the end of civilisation as they knew it, but in the end, the progressives won the day. Militarism can be seen as a persistence of the practice, with humans now sacrificed on the altar of state security. Since militarism is itself a threat to the continuation of human civilisation, it is not unreasonable to hope that militarism will one day go the way of ritual human sacrifice.

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