Skip to main content.

Back to: >> Ways Forward

Why do certain societies, including ours, have an instinct for stirring up conditions leading to violence? Not all do. Why such dramatic differences?

      We believe that our jungle/savanna heritage is mutable. Societies such as the Norwegian, Chinese and Portuguese have found solutions that are not on the US radar screen.

Why is the murder rate in Washington DC over twenty times that in Honolulu, or between El Paso and Baltimore?

      Differences among cities have a pattern similar to that between societies. Some cities mute violence much more effectively than others. It should be a simple matter to sort out why. Varshney's studies indicate one strong variable at work is ethnic integration in all elements and all levels of society. The same national laws apply. The differences are local.

Why are the US crime rates for murder, rape, armed robbery, and burglary the highest, or among the highest, of all nations on earth?

      The US is comprised of a violent society--that is why we have guns. After all, like it or not, guns foster violence, guns are the most common lethal weapons. Instead of ensuring our safety, they produce business for the morgues.

What is it in the human psyche that allows us to resort to violence?

      There is a singular need to answer this. This something is inherited, resides in our genes.

      Something like 65-80% of all Americans, females included, share in general the mindset of Hitler and his Germany. In its most extreme expression, that mindset tends to have an either-or, black-or-white, view of life; needs control and power; tends to have little introspection or insight, has a limited and narrow outlook. When extreme, that mindset can also have a habit of never looking back (or reading history for patterns revealed and lessons to be learned), of arrogance, religious bigotry and gender intolerance. At the high end of the scale, that mindset seems rarely (outwardly at least) to feel guilty no matter the damage wrought. Most of us only have a few of these tendencies and fewer still are outwardly expressed. Ironically, while that extreme mindset wants command in a rigid hierarchy, it also wants to be told to do what to do.

      To research this on your own, look up the separate studies by Adorno and Milgram and the original references. Then read Mein Kampf for closure, especially: Vol 1; Chapter 11 "Nation and Race." If you do not then agree with us, please explain to us what we have missed.

Who are the people with this mindset?

      Just look in the mirror. Do they have any good features? Yes, many. As robotic as the mindset seems in its extreme, in its more moderate expressions, it is a strong asset in many situations and professions. Accounting, manufacturing, medicine, law enforcement, and the military all benefit hugely from standardization arising from this mindset. The problem comes when the mindset is carried to the extreme or encounters unfamiliar situations requiring creativity. This mindset revels in politics, fails utterly in statesmanship. It also revels in historical Monotheism that is too often associated with Religion and Violence to the detriment of progress.

Can we change?

      Of course. But it will take an organized grass-roots campaign to overcome the steady propaganda spewed by those holding the reins of power and influence in Washington.

      We must determine how and why we differ from the other more peaceful societies on earth. And we can start, each of us, by addressing the whys and checking out our progress in our own private mirrors.

      Special- and moneyed-interests are places to look. For example, within our borders, guns kill far more people than they save. Guns don't go off by themselves. People pull the triggers. As long as the Authoritarian Personality dominates society, we favor guns in the hands of the "organized militia" only. But the militia does not include every tough on the street corner, every serial murderer, every would-be terrorist, every school kid with a grudge. Guns available to the public for sports use must be only through clubs or institutions licensed for the purpose. Band-aids and half measures can not work well enough.

When you think about it, Washington could be the greatest, safest city on earth. So why do we allow it to be the murder capital?

      Authoritarians are in charge, and to them shooting back seems safer than changing a culture, to them it is all black or white. And so it is with the forks in the road leading to violence or peace.

Let's change the discussion and consider a parallel history. Could it be that there are some not-so-obvious reasons why the oldest civilization on earth is now coming on strong, economically, militarily, and politically? This civilization never sought empire; instead, centuries ago, it built a wall visible from Mars to keep the Mongols out. Different folks will make different things out of that. But the historic fact is that the most enduring culture on earth has never been expansionistic beyond its own ethnic region. The most enduring culture on earth is modernizing rapidly as it sheds its Communistic experiment. Who can say we do not have much to learn as a society? These are not questions the typical Fundamentalist or Monotheist can even contemplate, much less ask.

The most enduring culture on earth never adopted a monotheism as its mainstream philosophy.
It does not have to propagandize family values.
They are national philosophy.

To most people, change is threatening psychologically. It is even more threatening to those in power, whether they be political, military, cooperate, or religious barons. Violence will continue until we resolve this core issue. The core-enemy lies not only in foreign lands. S/he resides also in the mirror.

Can we bring about social changes known to enhance safety for citizens?

      If other societies have become peaceful, we can too, if we have time and the inclination. We can educate ourselves about the core problem underlying violence as it is not taught in any coherent form in schools.

      The Authoritarian Personality reigns supreme in our time. Mr. Bush, an archetype, declared: "You are either with us or against us. ...I am a war president." See Neoconservatism, Bush Letter, and the New American Century for his "commandments."

      Then we can "beat the drums from below" and bring the issue into the political arena by supporting those who understand and have the integrity to move forward as statespeople toward solutions. Until this becomes a political issue it will remain a violent society by choice. In the mirrors of nations, the US will always look like a bad guy, whether or not we actually are at the moment.

Where is our charismatic leader for changing our direction?

      We don't know, but s/he should have a bit of the following.

      Albert Schweitzer provides moral and philosophical guidance. One of his students wrote:

      "We typically use 'optimism' or 'pessimism' to describe our Intellectual predispositions in how we view the world. For Schweitzer, however, those words relate not to the intellect only, but also to the will and to the positive actions which we may take: 'True optimism has nothing to do with any sort of lenient judgment. It consists in contemplating and willing the ideal in the light of a deep and self-consistent affirmation of life and the world. ... Optimism and pessimism, therefore, do not consist in counting with more or less confidence on a future for the existing state of things, but in what the will desires the future to be. They are qualities not of the judgment, but of the will.'"

      Optimism and pessimism ...are qualities not of the judgment, but of the will. -- Albert Schweitzer

      "Schweitzer also distinguished between how individuals and societies approach their ethical roles: "The ethic of ethical personality is personal, incapable of regulation, and absolute; the system established by society for its prosperous existence is supra-personal, regulated, and relative. Hence the ethical personality cannot surrender to it, but lives always in continuous conflict with it, obliged again and again to oppose it because it finds its focus too short." Schweitzer also holds that "even a society whose ethical standard is relatively high, is dangerous to the ethics of its members", because the individual spiritual ethic may be corrupted and overwhelmed by the more practical ethic of the society."

For more on this wonderful, beautiful man see:

Albert Schweitzer Honors Award
Brief bio

When you think about it, Washington could be the greatest, safest city on earth. So why in fact is it essentially a murder capital?


No comments yet

To be able to post comments, please register on the site.