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on Vengeance as it relates to Survival

Posted by Baldur on Sunday, January 02 2022 at 05:31:45AM
In reply to Humans Don't Need Satan To Be Evil. posted by Eeyore on Saturday, January 01 2022 at 8:13:16PM

"(For the sake of argument, "Evil" being whatever hampers the human ability to survive, thrive, and be happy, otherwise life, liberty and the pursuit of lolis.)"

I like the way you phrase that. I might offer "the human ability to survive, thrive, and feel alive" if you want to add a little more rhyme to it. ;-)

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Lolis" certainly has a ring to it.

"animals don't seek to avenge or commit retribution ten fold or whatever. All they do is react for the sake of survival instinct. Humans dwell on past wrongs and stew on thoughts of revenge."

Some important ideas here. I will add one more: how much of the human spirit of vengeance is related to the human capacity to think about the future, and the need to assure that threats to one's own well-being have been neutralized - not just for the moment, but for future happiness as well?

Of course, the traits useful to assuring that future threats have been neutralized can go too far, and we have had to develop such ideas as forgiveness and the distinction between accidents and intentional crimes so as to prevent these tendencies from spiraling out of control - but that does not change the fact that there is value in neutralizing threats before they present themselves.

I am reminded that in Africa it has long been considered a truism that a lion which attacks humans is old, or sick, and weak, and generally on the verge of starvation because they are unable to go after any of their normal prey. That is because a healthy lion will prefer to seek any prey other than humans. This in turn is because there is a long-standing tradition in Africa of hunting down and destroying any lion which attacks a human being, so whether it is learned behaviour or an evolved distaste for human prey, lions have been shaped over very long periods to avoid entanglements with human beings wherever possible. The rare exceptions are, of course, hunted down and destroyed.

Wildlife management in our own nations follows the same principle with all species: any animal that attacks a human being is to be found and destroyed. It's not because we hate animals, it's because this is the way to neutralize a future threat to human beings. It is not about vengeance - sometimes we are very loathe to do it - but it has many of the same characteristics as vengeance in practice.

On the question of the concept of accident versus intention, I am reminded of what I have been told by missionaries who worked in Papua New Guinea. They had the principle that, if one were driving down the road and for any reason hit a pedestrian, one must continue driving and get out of there as soon as possible. It would not matter if it were completely the pedestrian's fault - say an obvious suicide attempt by motor vehicle. It would not matter whether the injury were severe, or slight, and one could easily offer medical treatment to save their life, or take them to medical care. One must never stop. That is because the people there do not have (or at least at the time did not have) any concept of an accident - they would have only seen that the driver had hurt someone, and would drag the driver (and perhaps passengers) out of their vehicle and kill them on the spot. They would have seen this as justice.

Some of the ideas which make modern civilization possible seem obvious to us, but they have not always been obvious, and are still not obvious in some parts of the world. We differentiate between accident and intention, and we have established the principle of forgiveness in almost all cases, because these are necessary to prevent cycles of vengeance and retribution that left unchecked would destroy everyone. Missionaries, in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere, have attempted to educate the peoples they reach out to in order to show them a better way to live, a way in which they can escape cycles of vengeance and violence. They have often been successful, at least to a degree.

However, the original principle behind what seems to be an evolved appreciation for vengeance, the idea of neutralizing future threats, is still as strong as ever. We have just found other, hopefully more humane, ways to neutralize future threats. And no matter how civilized humans may become, we will always have that need to neutralize threats to our future happiness.

Of course, sometimes there are irreconcilable differences. As all of us here know, pedophiles are not any threat to children - at least no more than humans in general are. In fact, the data shows that we are less of a threat to children than non-pedophiles are, even when it comes to questions of sexual assault. But those who hate us cannot see the truth - they have blinded themselves to it. To use Biblical language, they have eyes and cannot see. They refuse to see, even when the truth is pointed out to them. And so they have become a threat to us, which means that they have become a threat to perhaps one third of humanity - and not only that, but I suspect the one third of humanity that keeps the rest relatively sane.

Because they falsely see us as a threat to their future happiness they attempt to neutralize us, and in doing so they become a threat to not only our future happiness but to humanity itself, and to their own future happiness. Which means that we have no choice but to attempt to neutralize the threat they present.

Those who hate us have almost universally resisted all attempts to educate them, and this has necessitated exceptional methods to prevent their attempts to destroy all that is good in humanity - but I won't speak more on that here as those operations are ongoing.

Religion, of course, has co-evolved with humanity, as a way of enshrining useful standards of behaviour into our cultures and civilizations, and to preserve the best practices over many generations.

Whether any particular religion is literally "true" is not particularly relevant. Certainly not as relevant as whether it is effective in inculcating its followers with patterns of behaviour that benefit themselves and others.

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