Timberlake: Warfare is inevitable, modern humanity’s survival of the fittest

Ian Timberlake

Warfare is inevitable, modern humanity’s survival of the fittest.

Margaret Mead, the late cultural anthropologist said: “When one group enters conflict/war, others must either take it up or be destroyed.” This is quite literally the definition of “survival of the fittest.” While simultaneously she claims warfare to be “only an invention,” to me, this seems to be of slight contradiction. Although I respect her and her achievements in anthropology, I don’t believe warfare is an invention.

In nature, animals fight for survival — their ability to be selfish is literally the difference between life or death. Humans, just like many other species on the planet, are animals. It just so happens our ability to rise to the top of the food chain was our evolved ability to rationally think. We can’t fly; we can’t camouflage; but we can utilize our brains. That is our distinct “trait.” Survival of the fittest is what drives a species, a process called natural selection or Darwinian Evolution.

The real question is whether or not our ability to comprehend and rationalize will overcome our natural instinct to compete for survival. The reason I don’t believe the overcoming of this challenge to be possible is everyone, no matter the era or the mentality, has one common goal — and that is to live. And while we live relatively easily compared to other creatures on Earth, every individual is always looking for their own greener grass. As long as that intrinsic mentality remains, a human-to-human arms race will always exist.

Of course we all would love a world without war. A world that is peaceful wherever you place your latitude and longitude. The only problem is that each and every person in the entire world has a different idea of what a peaceful world would look like, thus, warfare. Each person and their dog has “wants” and/or “needs” that satisfy them to some extent. Their current existence will never be satisfactory until those “wants” and/or “needs” are met. And once they are, new “wants” and “needs” are birthed.

It could be argued future conflict will be resolved through peaceful debate and discussion. I will always agree this is the ideal way to resolve dispute, but to say everyone will always peacefully accept a conflict resolution that does not go their way is to be dense. “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace,” said President George Washington, and it’s for the above reason why his words should be taken seriously.

A distinction between the “is” and the “ought” must be made. I am not advocating we throw a baby out with the bathwater and accept warfare. Striving for global peace is crucial and will only make the world a better place to live — but violent conflict will never be eradicated. Steps can definitely be made to improve the nature and frequency of war, namely religion. The removal of said dogma would have and will take care of many national and international cold and hot wars.

As long as one person of the 7 billion people in this world has a different world view, there will be conflict. Since humans are easily manipulated and prone to influence, there will always be a group out there that will stand up and fight for what it believes in. It has happened since the dawn of human intellect, and it will continue to happen until the extinction of the human species. A conflict free world is a world without life and/or a world run by unthinking robots. If those robots have the ability to think for themselves, they will have conflict just the same.

Warfare is the byproduct of individual thinking. It is the telltale sign we as humans actually can rationalize and comprehend, and it’s because of this that we will always have warfare; it is not because of our brains we will rid the world of conflict.

The best we can live for is to live within a community that has strong barriers but an open heart. The best we can work towards is to accept the fact that different mentalities will always be held within our own and other communities. The best we can hope for is for other communities to do the same.