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At 11:43 PM 28/02/02 -0800, you wrote:
>What were the Serbs and Kosovars fighting about? And the protestants and
>catholics in Ireland but land? Territory. Gangs in Los Angeles fight over
>"turf." People do this in every country and every culture.
You certainly mount an impressive argument, but you are wrong that these
conflicts happen in every culture. I grant you that when indigenous peoples
have been pushed into the bad-lands by invading colonisers they have
defended their homelands, but in many cases, before the invasion, tribal
civilisations lived in territories that were defined in ancient custom and
were so respected that no incursions were made that required defence
>The song of the bird and the cry of the cougar are both warnings that they
>have staked out a territory and will defend it. Wolves mark their territory
>with scent and don't hesitate to defend it against an intruding male wolf.
>And the sheep they prey on do the same thing by butting heads over the
>females they decide are "theirs."
>Have you read Guns, Germs and Steel? Jared Diamond describes pacific
>islanders doing it. It's a universal trait that has nothing to do with lack
>of food or social chaos. It's the duty of the alpha male of every mammal
>species I'm aware of to defend his women and his territory.
You want it both ways. We can't say that we are superior to other animals
on the grounds that we think, communicate and solve problems and then
justify our baser actions as normal because animals behave in some way. As
a volunteer fire fighter, I have risked my life many times for complete
strangers, does this make me brain damaged or humane? There is the
difference, it is human animal instinct to fight or flee in defence of life
or possessions, but it is humane to rise above the base and achieve a
collectivist culture where caring and sharing may even take precedence over
For example, in this country we have a 'green' energy supplier who produces
electricity from wind, sun or water. The power costs a little more but I
pay this extra gladly because I care more for the people who will follow us
into life on this planet than I do for the few dollars. As a result I can't
afford a few extra consumer items and that saves energy too.
I agree with you that I, even as an ageing male, will fight, even to the
death, to protect my children or my grandchildren, but maybe that's because
that's because I have been conditioned to think that it is my duty as an
'alpha' male to do so. Nature or nurture?
We modern Westerners have an idea, a meme, that human life is sacred and
should be preserved at all costs; this is not a universal value. Where
does it fit with the Asian tribe placing the oldest women last when
crossing a crocodile infested river, or the old Inuit walking out into the
snow so as to reduce the burden on the group? Early colonists in Australia
reported that in hard times babies were abandoned in order to save the
mothers. Human history abounds with cultures in which it was normal to
sacrifice the rights and/or wellbeing of the individual for the
preservation of the collective. I think that we have departed from that
humane norm over the past few thousand years. It could be that modern
pressures have caused some degree of brain damage which has caused us to
become more animal.
As Richard wrote recently, religion provide a set of defaults. The values
that you suggest are universal human norms may all be found in the Old
Testament and, whether you are atheist, agnostic or calathumpian, if you
grew up in a Judao/Christian/Moslem world, those values appear to be normal
And no I havn't read Jared Diamond's book. I thought he was a fiction writer.
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