Friday, 3 June 2011

Men and War

So what has been in the news lately that will spark my rant button?  Not a great deal apart from the continuing wars and conflicts around the world.
Have you ever noticed that wars are nearly always started by men.  I say nearly as there are a few exceptions – there were the Amazon women of Greek mythology, Boudica in Britain and Margaret Thatcher attacking  (sorry I should say defending) the Faulklands.
I have often wondered if this need to fight stems from some primal instinct to protect territory or extend it.   School-age boys often tussle together if not resort to a fall blown fight.  Often these encounters are the start of lifelong friendships.  As boys grow older they develop loyalties, to school, to football teams, to the town in which they live.  We have all seen how these loyalties can be hyped up until things overflow into violence against an opposing side.
Where did this all begin?  I’m no historian, psychologist or anthropologist, but I often wonder if this is not something built in to the psyche of the male personality.  Centuries ago, in the bronze age or maybe even earlier, when people began to live together in communities, there were many dangers.  The men were the hunters and protectors.  They defended against raiders from other settlements – and also carried out their own raids.  Cattle and women being the main targets.
This could be why, even today, people are wary of strangers, of those who live in the next town, the next county or the next country.  Many governments have tried to make discrimination illegal but mistrust of the unknown is another inherent trait.  How many people reading this know of the people from the next town down the road being called names?  I could quote some sayings now but in the interests of peace and harmony, won’t.
But war is more than defending one’s own village, isn’t it?  Depends on which side you are on.  The aggressors are usually led be control freaks, dictators or those who want to extend their territory or power.   They psyche up their followers, making the opposition into evil devil worshipers or some such thing.  There are examples enough in history for me not to need to name such tyrants.  They start their war of attrition and those being invaded have to fight back.
Take war out of the equation and the need to fight will erupt in other ways, especially in the young.  Gangs are formed.  That’s nothing new, although the level of violence has escalated in recent years.  Teddy Boys, Mods and Rockers – probably others before them, have all had followers who got involved in ‘trouble.’  Football fans chant abuse at each other at matches, usually all in the name of a good laugh, but why are people surprised if this turns to fighting?
And why are people so surprised that alcohol causes trouble?  In the old days, the days of hand to hand combat with swords and spears,  it was almost compulsory to get your army drunk before they went into battle, else the more sensible would have turned around and gone home.
So what turns an overwise loving and caring person into some minor version of the Incredible Hulk?  It must be something inherited over the millennia.  I have seen this happen when out with my own husband.  He was a bit of a lad when he was young.  A night out wasn’t successful unless it had ended in a fight.  Fortunately he had got over that stage by the time I met him, but even today, if we are out together,  at night, and a stranger approaches from the shadows, he is ready to floor him, while I am quite happy to either ignore the stranger or say a pleasant ‘hello’.   I used to live in a poorer part of London, that’s the polite way of putting it, and would walk home from the bus stop in the dark without any qualms.  (All seven stone, five foot one and a half inch of me).  When my husband came to visit, he now tells me, he would be waiting for someone to attack him.  Maybe, today, that would be the case, but I’m talking about a good few years ago (nearly let my age slip there). 
Will we ever solve this problem?  Probably not and in the main I don’t think I would want to.  Yes, it would be good to get rid of all the psychopaths who want to do nasty things to people, those who become dictators or fanatics who think only their beliefs are right.  But on the whole I wouldn’t want to live in a world full of passive men.  Neither do I like the idea of aggressive women.  Vive le difference! 
Sometimes I think the world would be a much nicer place if it were governed by women.  But then I think, to be a good politician you need strong masculine traits which defeats the point of women ruling the world.  We do anyway, the men just don’t realize!

©Kristen Stone 2011

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