It seems as though throughout history violence has been part of our human nature. I wonder if it must always be so or if, with modern communication helping us to become aware of how widespread it is, we can try to reduce it at least. It seems as though you can never open a newspaper or watch a TV headline without it being thrust in your face, either the violence of an individual, or of groups such as is happening in Syria.

As our knowledge increases and we learn more about solving differences through argument and discussion will we ever get to the stage where violence and war disappear? If we look at our nearest neighbours in an evolutionary sense, the orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we are 98% genetically connected, we find out that some things are common, others not. Comparison with those so genetically close to us suggests that violence is not necessarily part of our genetic makeup.

This problem of violent behaviour is going to become even more important if, as predicted, as the world’s population increases food and water are going to become increasingly scarce and fighting is likely to break out over them. For us older people this is unlikely to be a personal problem but it could be for our children, and even more so for our grandchildren. Can we help to make the world a more peaceful place while we are still on it, teaching its inhabitants to rely on dialogue rather than aggression?

It seems to be an impossible task but bearing in mind how many older people there are in the world, particularly in the developed world, surely our numbers can count for something? Gandhi used the millions of his fellow country people to topple the armed British occupiers through promotion of non-violence so the precedence has already been set. I’m not suggesting that we all march across our countries (a bit hard for those of us in wheelchairs!) but if we all try to damp down on either physical or mental violence in our own spheres of life it must help. This particularly applies to those of our own, older people, who are suffering as others take advantage of their frailty.

If all the older people in the world pledged a war on violence at any level, exchanging it for dialogue, there are enough of us to make the world a better place. Let’s start in our own communities and countries and make a difference there.