We will try to show why, in species, VIOLENCE IS THE PRICE OF LOVE. Both are entangled, evolutionary speaking. As a species grow in its capacity to express love, so grows its capacity to defend that love, strongly, that is, violently. The relationship is mathematical.
Human beings arise from love: a baby without tender loving care, simply dies.
Some will inevitably argue, disingenuously, that the care does not always have to be “tender” and “loving”; let’s insist, however, that tender loving care for a baby is roughly the strongest instinct of human beings, precisely because, without it, the species would not exist. A vaguely normal human being, in a vaguely normal state, cannot resist the need to take care of a baby who needs care.
(That does not mean an enraged, or hateful human will not kill a baby; it means such an amount of lethal rage is unusual… otherwise the species would not exist. A more normal rage is to kill the parents, and keep the baby. It is of note that the Nazis deliberately killed, in the most atrocious circumstances I have been appraised of, in the entire history of humanity, very small children in World War Two. This fact, by itself, because it happened in most literate and intellectually exacting Germany is enough to cause considerable pause. But this is not the main axis of today’s essay.)
However the Dark Side of the mental force exists. All over intelligent species.
The Dark Side of the human mind causes pause: was it unavoidable that a species with a Dark Side became the most intelligent species on Earth? We will see that, indeed, it was bound to be the case. Where does this Dark Side comes from? How does it relate to Love? Does the Dark Side enable Love?
The obvious answer, which is not good enough, is that Homo is a carnivorous genus. Even some chimpanzee groups have been observed to adopt a systematically carnivorous diet (eating meat every day). In the case of humans, there is a further complication: chimp like humanoids need (some) trees. Without much trees around, our humanoid ancestors were easy to catch (differently from, say, bats, which are so hard to catch, they can live 40 years). To be safe away from trees, our ancestors had to instil terror in potential predators.
Once in Senegal, I saw a chimpanzee hanging from a tree barely bigger than he was. It was in an area with low bushes and a few miniature trees. The relative sizes of the humongous black and hairy chimp, and the tiny tree were strikingly disproportionate. So was the incredible rage of our fellow humanoid. Our mere presence seemed to have unhinged the universe. Mr. Chimp shook the tree so badly he nearly broke it, and then disappeared, bounding, shrieking, and howling, as if he were on a mission to go destroy the universe, somewhere, somewhat, out there. It was very impressive. The entire zone was full of lions. But no lion in his right mind would come anywhere near such an insane maniac.
That was the whole idea.
Baboons are omnivorous, like chimps, and that mean that, like chimps, they love meat. And the hunt. Moreover, chimps and leopards love to eat (smaller) baboons, and that only boost the baboons’ aggressive disposition. But the further twist with baboons is that, like humans, they (some of them) conquered the savannah.
All these primates have to be hyper aggressive to survive, so they are hyper aggressive.
Would they be less aggressive if they were NOT carnivorous? That’s unlikely: look at elephants: they are immensely intelligent, they know who they are: make a dot above their eyes, bring a mirror, and they inquire (few animals can do this). They have colossal memory, understand much human language, and can be tamed, directly from the wild. However, elephants can be extremely aggressive. Poachers use the elephants’ aggressive solidarity to kill them: kill one, and others come back, charging.
Are there non aggressive very intelligent species? It’s not clear that one can find a single example of a thoroughly pacific, highly intelligent species.
Walruses, who scratch food with their huge teeth at the bottom of the sea, can turn violent and hyper aggressive if they perceive, or imagine, a threat; walruses are used to fend off Polar Bears, and human hunters. Siberians know them as the “tigers of the sea”. They will charge a boat. Some whales are pretty pacific: typically they eat plankton. Hunters such as Humpbacks and Sperm Whales are something else.
In 1820, the whaleship Essex was deliberately charged twice, with extreme violence, by a huge bull Sperm Whale, and sunk in the middle of the Pacific. It is clear that the whale plotted the attack, and conducted it with extreme gusto. Another five cases of major boats sunk by whales are known. Specialists of whale neurology believe that the whale acted in protection or vengeance (at least one of its group had been harpooned earlier, although it counter-attacked and broke the line).
Sperm Whales have the largest brains on Earth. Those brains are more more complex – in certain ways – than those of humans (much of the brain process sound in an exquisite way, both for hunting with the sonar and for communications far, far away…). Their cerebral cortex is much more convoluted than the human cortex. Sperm whales are social creatures with strong bonds, staying in stable social groups, keeping constant companions throughout their lifespan. Webcams have shown they often dive all together, within a meter or so of each other (and they can be 25 meters long, like the one which sunk the Essex). Whalers of old used to harpoon a calf, keep it attached and alive, and then harpoon the adults who came to its rescue.
First Mate Chase survived the harrowing, 4,000 miles navigation across the sea, complete with drawing straws to find not just who was going to be eaten, but who was going to kill dinner (ironically enough, this cannibalism happened because the crew refused captain Pollard’s suggestion to sail to the Marquesas, from fear of… cannibals). Owen Chase recalled: “I turned around and saw him… directly ahead of us [nearly 2,000 feet, 550 meters, away], coming down with twice his ordinary speed… with ten-fold fury and vengeance in his aspect.
“The surf flew in all directions about him with the continual violent thrashing of his tail. His head about half out of the water, and in that way he came upon us, and again struck the ship.
“The ship brought up as suddenly and violently as if she had struck a rock and trembled for a few minutes like a leaf.”
Even parrots will attack to defend their mate. Approaching an island at sea, swimming and diving, I was attacked relentlessly by giant gulls (goelands). I have avoided the dangerous crossing to that island ever since.
As intelligence grows, so does love. And thus so does the necessity of defending said love. Ultimate defense means not just violence, as Israelis and Palestinians inflict on each other, but it means inflicting, and suffering, death.
Love cannot be separated from the Dark Side. Love causes the Dark Side, be it only as a defense. The Dark Side is the price of Love.
The preceding is an explanation, and an apology of violence, in some ultimate circumstances, but should not be construed as a pretext to institute or amplify violence, just because a philosopher justified it some time (and so did Christ and Muhammad). Just as there are many types of Christianism and Islamism there are many types of violence, and many “non-violent” religions and philosophies allow many sorts of violent reactions to mitigate a violence previously imposed on the innocent. (This is the obvious way in which to reinterpret violent Jihad.)
There is an even more devious, and therefore irresistible consideration to entertain: carnivores eat herbivores, thus have to outsmart them. Hence the violence meat eaters live by, is, by itself, a contributor to higher smarts. And indeed, except for elephants, animals with higher smarts are carnivorous (yes, even orangutans love meat). Therein a quandary. And a disturbing cosmic perspective.
The thin red line between heavens and hell seem to fluctuate in human hearts greatly from the nature of the physical law. It does not mean we have to hide our hearts in the sand, Quite the opposite.
If we want more goodness, the modern theory of evil, violence and intelligence tells us that we will have to think more of physics, not just psychology.
Meanwhile, please do not ask the extraterrestrials what they had for dinner. You may not like the answer.