It seems that on the lips of every commentator and pundit are the words “gun control.” In the wake of tragedy, it’s all too easy to make hasty declarations that appeal to the base, but perhaps, like many decisions made from emotion rather than careful thought, they can lead to more harm than good.
I want to talk about the darker side of the human spirit, the history and culture of one of man’s driving impulses: murder.
As a species, we’ve been killing each other since before we were even human. For those of you who think primates are too innocent to commit murder and brutality, think again. Chimpanzees are wonderful yet violent creatures. Studies show that savagery among chimp groups is shockingly high. Whether it’s the overthrowing of a tyrannical group leader or targeting chimps from other groups when the attackers have numerical superiority, the instances of killings are surprisingly high.
In the past, many argued that any observed violence was due to man’s interference in the lives of these otherwise peaceable creatures, but studies published in 2014 show something very different. In fact, this is now the prevailing view. It turns out that chimp groups murder each other because of Adaptive Strategies. Whether this is a high number of males in a group seeking dominance, or over-population causing resources to be scarce, or even just because it creates better access to resources – such violent strategies are well documented and mostly unquestioned nowadays.