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Local Views: Our ability to reason, feel empathy should help humans avoid war

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Alexis Roach
June 26, 2014

Humans have always looked for the answer as to why they are superior to other animals. Is it because they are smarter or have bigger brains? The fine line that distinguishes humans and other species is their ability to solve problems logically (i.e. not act on impulse and primeval instincts), communicate effectively and empathize with other beings. Because of this distinction, the fact that humans engage in war blurs the line between human and beast.

War never was and never will be the answer to any human dispute. Morals that are exclusively humanistic in trait fall from their pedestal when actions such as war are taken. With this being said, war should not be considered the answer to tensions between two parties.

Humanity’s uncanny ability to solve problems logically is what has advanced our society and culture since Homo erectus first began walking this Earth. Picking apart a problem and rationally putting it back together to keep the peace is how we have advanced. War goes against humans’ ability to sensibly solve issues, and our problem-solving ability regresses to an elementary level.

War tends to be irrational and borne out of intense human emotion. For example, several wars have been started out of anger at another country for miniscule reasons such as borders and even supposed “stealing of love.” These ridiculous issues could have been minimized if instead of taking their rage out in the form of fighting, they chose to sit down face to face and talk the issue out.

Other methods, including simply abstaining from partaking in other countries’ problems, could also effectively keep the problem at bay. Our ability to control our emotions and solve problems without violence is just one reason why war is not the answer.

Empathy for others is also a trait intrinsically present in our species. When one sees another suffering, one can immediate feel sympathy for that person. War causes unneeded grief and suffering to those not only on the front line and in battle, but also those left behind. Many deaths have resulted in the clashing of people engrossed in war. These deaths however, were completely unnecessary. The fighting didn’t need to be started in the first place.

When one thinks of deaths as a result of disasters due to human error, drugs and murder, the thought that comes to mind is “That it was a completely preventable and a worthless death.” This is the same for the casualties of war, preventable and worthless wastes of precious human life. Unneeded pain and loss have been placed on the shoulders of mothers and loved ones since the beginning of the human invention of war. This is yet another reason war is not the answer to human irrationality.

Lastly, war goes against morals that one is typically taught in childhood. Such as the golden rule and that fighting is not how to deal with a problem. Children are scolded and punished for engaging in these types of behaviors. Adults and countries that partake in the follies of war contradict what they were taught and what they are teaching to their young. The hypocrisy of their actions shows skewed morals. This is what happens when a society believes war is the answer to solving problems. Children grow up in this, and the cycle begins again; then, the next generation also believes war is the answer to solving disputes.

Some honorable way to assist their country. The honor of serving one’s country doesn’t have to come from killing for them and causing suffering in other hearts. As quoted by Wilfred Owen in his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est,” “To children ardent for some desperate glory, the old Lie; Dulce Decorum Est. Pro patria mori,” which means it is honorable to die for one’s country. The glorifying of war is again continued. This causes and allows for the collapse of cordial human relations in the future.

Overall, several reasons prove that war isn’t the answer to disputes and tensions between people. The differences between human and beast allow for alternatives to war and the casualty as a result of it. These weigh out the slight or nonexistent pros of war. Our capabilities to reason logically, to feel empathy for others and our desire to teach good morals to our young destroy any option of “yes” for the answer to war.



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