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THE AMBIVALENCE

Running Head: THE AMBIVALENCE OF MASS DESTRUCTION

The Ambivalence of Mass Destruction Soehl KnKade California State University, Chico

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Abstract Humans currently participate in violence, but evidence has that it is unnecessary. Relieving the human diet of eating animals and therefore practicing vegetarianism may absolve the proneness to violence. Such a simple measure may break human contingency to mass destruction such as using bombs to kill thousands of people, but breaking the habit of animal-killing may lead the way to altering this contingency.

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The Ambivalence of Mass Destruction Violence is a harsh reality for most people. Whether to the loss of a family member, house, limb, or even one’s city, violence has catastrophic effects. So why does it occur? Based on our genetic contingencies to other species, humans are creatures evolved to use violence in order to get what they want. In other terms, humans are evolved to survive. We must eat to live so therefore we take the energy from another organism. Based on the size and length of our digestive tract, we are well evolved to eat very complex organisms, namely animals. Animals are very active creatures just like us. Many of them eat other animals as well. Some of them eat even more animals than we do (e.g. lions). Therefore these animals must also be very violent creatures in order to survive. So, in order for humans to survive by eating other animals, we’ve become capable of substantial violence (Knauft & Abler, 1991). Over hundreds of thousands of years this adaptation of violence has become basic to our functioning, affecting almost every aspect of our genome (e.g. predatory faced-front eyes) to implement a violent edge in order to get and eat what we want in order to survive. The only other adaptations comparable to eating may be sexually reproductive mechanisms (e.g. spandrels such as mass in order to signify dominance, etc.), but it’s tough to determine which leads the way. However, based on the fact one will die without eating and will not without sex, for the purposes of specificity, I am going to conclude that eating is the most predominant survival adaptation affecting the evolution of the human species. Therefore, though sexual reproduction may also increase the level of violence

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adaptations in humans, any directly contingent adaptations for violence for sexual reproduction will be allotted to the need to eat when this aspect is being referenced herein. So now that the basis for violence has been established, is violence actually necessary for eating? At the current point in time with our complex societal manifestations and therefore availability of resources for any variability in ways to survive, the answer is no. All the vitamins and minerals necessary for survival based on human’s currently evolved state are available without having to eat another animal, though ultimately through the use of their physiological discharges (Eating, 1995; Crane & Sample, 1994). Therefore violence is no longer necessary for survival, at least in the killing-of-animals sense (Tardiff, 1996). These days the vegetarian and vegan diet (i.e. no animal products at all), not to mention a plethora of others, are common in available literature. Though it may be seen as violence when needing to kill a plant (i.e. instead of eating it’s replenishable fruits or stalks) in order to eat it, this behavior only involves an organism known not to fight back so the killing per say is done in a less vigorous way than say washing some dishes—at least in general. Plants have protective measures as well by releasing toxins ill to an animal’s health, but eating another animal has a much greater degenerative impact on the human body, which includes the incidence of cancer and heart disease (Hill, 2002). In fact, many plants are known to prevent the very diseases meats have been found to cause (Eating, 1995). With this evidence, the need for violence is gone as well; however relatively differentiated (i.e. insignificant) between taking another animal’s life and a plant’s life. So, given this progression of logic, why do humans still practice so much violence?

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Habit is probably the worst disease to humans, and could be the answer to the question of why humans still practice violence. With habit, and especially bad habit, a life can degenerate in a relatively moment’s notice. Doing drugs may be the stereotypical habit, but people usually don’t think too much about their day-to-day habits that are actually accumulating detrimental effects upon themselves. Eating at the same hotdog stand everyday and increasing chances for heart disease, watching TV the rest of the night after a typical workday and increasing the likelihood of heart disease or sleep deprivation, going everywhere in their car and so increasing air pollution and losing basic exercise, and remaining inside all day so neglecting sunlight and fresh air nutrition are to name a few habits creating detrimental effects (Health Psychology, 2000). But out of these, the hotdog-eating habit is probably most contingent upon our genome since TV’s, cars, and the ability to stay indoors all day weren’t much a part of our evolution. However, eating meat was. The unnecessary habit of eating meat—such as a hotdog—when regarding the reason for not needing meat in humans’ current diet seems just as unnecessary as using violence to accumulate food. Therefore violence can be seen as a habit—a behavior or action relatively regular to one’s daily activities. With the costs of violence, why does it seem this habit is still so prevalent in present-day human nature? To try to answer this, let’s review a little evolutionary history: evolution happens very slowly. Based on slow evolution, and the idea that because our inherent desires are at least partially contingent upon biological needs, humans have not evolved long enough to release the affective factors for needing to eat other animals. Although, with the grown incidence of high-calorie diets consisting of fats and sugars, the decreased need for highly athletic health for capturing meals or

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hard work in general, and the higher incidence of non-meat diet literature, the change already seems to have begun. But still, why does violence still flourish? These days violence happens in almost too many ways: women killing their own child, punching a wall, game-hunting, bombing a city. Out of these, an evolutionary psychologist might say that a woman killing her own child is adaptive, but from evidence this is done for reproductive value to assure the attachment of a male, which is contingent upon the male being able to retrieve resources, which is contingent upon the ability to hunt and kill through violence (Knauft & Abler, 1991). Punching a wall is not adaptive because it is likely a spandrel for the use of violence since it has greater costs than benefits. Game hunting (e.g. deer hunting) is just like random violence because it is a less affective way to say “killing-for-fun�. Bombing a multitude of people at once has got be the greatest form of violence unless some genocidal formula is conjured, and the reasons for creating a genocidal formula has the purpose only to kill every last one of a particular species, which is still very similar to human’s current ability to kill thousands of people with the press of a button. Current, common reasons for bombing an area are: to punish or teach others a lesson (e.g. keep them from making bad stuff), deter some people from taking their resources (e.g. land) of or oppressing their people or some other people (i.e. using violence for asserting their beliefs), asserting worldwide dominance, or to stop others from thriving or reasons unknown. Since violence has been shown to be a neverending cycle until one desists (Blumenthal, 2000), none of the benefits for these reasons for killing thousands or a couple of people will outweigh the future costs, and therefore supports no reason for violence. Determining resource distribution may be a

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problem and cause conflicts leading to violence, but again, violence is unnecessary to solve a dispute, even when there is disagreement, because disagreement can be solved through using majority voting or simply flipping a two-sided object. Ok, so a violence-less utopia may not be reasonable to human variability given resources will continually elicit dispute while populations increase. However, given this point in time, the measure of relieving our meat-eating desire may not be the only, but best, major step in deterring violence. For example, regarding wars over land, the average meat-eater requires about fifteen times as much land as a vegetarian (Robbins & Ornish, 2001). Knowing that eating meat isn’t necessary for survival, the vast increase in resources for going vegetarian could relieve massive tension for those wanting to push bomb-dropping buttons in order to get what they want, or at least what their senses continue to tell them.

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References Blumenthal, S. (2000). Developmental aspects of violence and the institutional response. Criminal behaviour & mental health, 10(3), 185-198. Brannon, L. & Feist, J. (2000). Health psychology: An introduction to behavior and health (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. Crane, M. & Sample, C. (1994). Vitamin B12 studies in total vegetarians (vegans). Journal of nutritional medicine, 4(4), 419-430. Hill, M. (2002). Meat, cancer, and dietary advice to the public. European journal of clinical nutrition, 56(3), pS36-S45. Knauft, B. & Abler, T. (1991). Violence and sociality in human evolution. Current anthropology, 32(4), 391-428. Reader’s Digest (1995). Eating for good health: Health & healing the natural way. New York, NY: Carroll & Brown Limited, London. Robbins, J. & Ornish, D. (2001). The food revolution: How your diet can help save your life and our world. York Beach, ME: Conari Press. Stanford, C. & Bunn, H. (1999). Meat eating and hominid evolution. Current anthropology, 40(5), 726-728. Tardiff, A. (1996). Simplifying the case for vegetarianism. Social theory & practice, 22(3), 299-314.

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The Ambivalence of Mass Destruction