The world has seen many wars. Every last one of them led to catastrophic results. Yet, there is still so much war-mongering. Looking beyond the moral and political drama, a few core issues emerge:
The need to prove oneself
Imagine someone who has never felt worthy in their contribution to a situation, place or event. On top of that, they were ridiculed for lacking “what it takes” and cast out for not belonging among the “cool ones” or the “smart ones.” This state of mind will signficantly up the likelihood of animosity in a war type scenario. The person wants to win. They want to show that they are a force to be reckoned with. They are intensely determined to prove themselves.
Cost vs benefit analysis
If a person feels they have nothing to lose, then they will see no cost in fighting. The more you have to lose, the less inclined you are to fight. This aspect runs into the most fundamental needs such as basic income, food, shelter etc. Give people jobs, and suddenly the cost of fighting outweighs the benefits. Give people a chance at an education, and their standing and reputation becomes a serious risk should they take to violence. Give people a person to love and be loved by, and losing that becomes akin to losing one’s soul. The more you have to lose, the less inclined you are to fight. It is that simple.
Let’s start this one with an analogy. Many people feel sickened by the thought of a polyamorous relationship. They build up a romantic ideal in their heads of what the union between a man and woman should be like if they decide to be companions for life, and polyamory destroys that ideal. Therefore, opponents of polyamory absolutely detest it. In their minds, it tarnishes a “perfect” and “pure” concept to a level that they simply cannot bear. Culture works in a similar fashion. There are several cultural ideals today. The Hindu nation. The White Christian nation. The Islamic nation. So on and so forth. The war-mongering begins when the “purity” of a cultural ideal is damaged. The only solution to this is exposure to alien cultures. Right from childhood. Upon regular and long-term multicultural exposure, cultural ideals take a backseat and human ideals take their place.
Nobody wants to admit jealousy, but everyone feels it fairly frequently. There are few things in the world as devastating as looking at someone who has what you dream of having. On top of that, if this someone does not appreciate what they have and takes it for granted, then your jealousy evolves into fury. For example, consider a homeless person. When a homeless person sees someone with a home, they feel devastated. Now, if this someone did not appreciate the home and said something like “I’d give up my home to patch things up with my ex” then the homeless person will be kindled in a way words cannot describe. “Missing out” hurts like a knife through your chest. But “abuse/ignorance of privilege” hurts like hell itself.
What starts out as a violent instinct born of culture, frustration and deprivation can evolve very quickly into vengeance and murderous hate. Vengeance occurs when war takes someone or something extremely dear to you, and murderous hate is simply directed towards that the object of vengeance. The attacks and retaliations can go back and forth until, eventually, both parties forget that the fight wasn’t about hitting where it hurts when it began.
There will always be those who just cannot get along with others. They thrive on putting others down, or destroying others in some way. Psychologists call this sort of condition antisocial personality disorder. The reasons for this disorder can range from genetic to prolonged childhood abuse. It’s tragic to imagine the plight of these individuals, but they are a danger to the general public nonetheless, particularly in times of war.
The “good” fight
There are many fights without which human rights wouldn’t be where it is today. Therefore, the concept of a good fight most certainly exists. The problem occurs when humans take things too far. You strike up a conversation with someone about saving the Earth, and by the end of the conversation, it’s about lost arguments. You start by protesting discrimination for its evils and by the end of it, again, it’s about dominating accusations of hypocrisy. In the past, there were clear principles on which humanity was governed. So good fights did not turn into ego traps as often as they do today. Today, there are no universal principles. Between religion, conservativeness, democracy, communism, liberalism and what else have you, nobody knows what to believe.
I’ll stop here for now. In a nutshell, this is my take on why war, despite its widely documented horrors, is still so appealing to so many people. Thank you for reading.