There always seems to be, and has been, violence in our world. We are clever enough to be able to land on the moon and we are now taking tentative steps to do the same on Mars but we can’t solve the problems of some of the basic, fundamental problems of humanity. Some people seem to be entirely peaceful and loving whereas others strew their lives with violence, yet we don’t seem to be able to work out how and why either condition happens.
Several events have happened lately which illustrate the two extremes of humanity. Firstly the lovely disabled Stella Young died after a lifetime of changing people’s opinion of disabled people. It is so easy to look at the outer cover people wear and make assumptions about what they are capable of. If you see someone badly disabled it is often hard to accept that there could be a brilliant brain inside the crumpled body- so often they are talked down to on the assumption that their brains are in the same state as the rest of the outer cover. We older people cop it too. When people see our wrinkled skin, and perhaps stooping bodies, they will often assume that our brains have been around for to long to be entirely functional. At least we haven’t faced this attitude all our lives as the disabled tend to have to.
The other end of the spectrum are those who choose the violent side of being human and go down this path. The terrorists, even those brought up in relatively affluent and peaceful Australia, will give it all up to go to kill complete strangers in a foreign land. Some of them take the even more feral path of taking hostages and then taunting them with death over many weeks, even years. How can there be humans who can torture other humans for no apparent reason than that they have the opportunity to do so? Some people seem to accept this as normal life but others become deeply traumatised by it, as we see from the numbers who serve in the armed services and come back and can’t cope with the memories of what they have done and have seen done.
Are there people who have no feeling for others no matter have much suffering they have caused or have seen inflicted on others? Can we identify these people early in their lives and change them? Our prisons, which also house these people, are expensive and appear to be ineffective. All they seem to do is reduce the opportunities these people have to follow their instincts or whatever description we give to their behaviour.
Perhaps we are all a mixture of the best of mankind and the worst as these behaviours suggest. These problems seem to be as difficult to solve as getting to Mars. Maybe we should give them equal priority.