Nobody likes war.  The things humans like are their loved ones, love itself, survival, freedom, beauty and wealth.  War destroys them all.  Yet it persists.  Occasionally someone will suggest that wars are good for the economy.  That never made the slightest sense and the opposite effect is now painfully obvious.  Yet we have wars. 

Leaders sometimes think they can stay in power by starting wars.  That may work for a time.  But eventually people will turn on those leaders and hate them.  One of the most successful and best managed wars of modern times was the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina.  By virtue of meticulous planning and careful execution the British victory was very impressive.  Yet Margaret Thatcher, the victorious prime minister, was quickly removed from power shortly afterward. 

Some have believed that wars make “men” of the young men who fight them.  Somehow the exercise of courage and discipline has been thought to have brought out something good in them.  Now for many years it has been known that wars are terribly destructive of people, even people who return physically unharmed.  One of my earlier campaigns was to make that point clear to people.  When I got started, there were no yellow ribbons for the troops.  There were no bumper stickers saying, “We support our troops.”  Young men in uniform were not applauded as they deplaned.  All that has now changed in recognition of the great sacrifices they make.  Whether I actually had any influence in turning that around I cannot say.  I certainly devoted a great deal of time and expense to the effort.  If you care to look at some of what I did, go to http://WildSurmises.com and do some reading, starting with the June, 1985 article.  The numbers are there, and they suggest that more than six times as many men died from effects of the war after returning home as died in actual combat. 

Humans behave in a way antithetical to their dearest desires.  What could possibly account for us being so un-human?  The only thing that could possibly trump all the negatives is the creation of babies.  Part of it may be that young men going to war or returning home are more eager to have children or their wives are more eager to have children than they would have been had the soldiers’ lives not been on the line.  That does not account for the data we have examined. 

What I suspect has been going on is this.  People vary in their ability to tolerate other people who are different from themselves.  It maters not whether this is genetic or learned.  Either way children resemble their parents, so tolerant parents are more likely to have tolerant children.  Parents who are less tolerant to any degree are more likely to want to spend time with people who are more like themselves, which necessarily means spending time with people who are more nearly kin.  Of course kinship is always relative.  We are all kin.

People are more likely to marry people who they spend time with.  So less tolerant people are on average likely to marry nearer kin, and unless the kinship is scandalously close are going to have more children.

It is as simple as that.  Every generation consists disproportionately of intolerant people.  The process is subject to positive feedback.  The intolerance accumulates.  Eventually something has to give way.  People think they want a war.  They do not want a war, but they think they do.

If you wish to become powerful but lack energy and ability, find a group of people who accept you and start telling them how much better they are than are people who are outside of the group.  That is what they want to hear.  Every group of human beings is a collection of people who are the result of untold generations that have been selecting for babies of the intolerant.  Everyone is vulnerable.  All you have to do is pander to that lust.  They will begin to be drawn to you.

At the extreme, if you can become a powerful politician, begin to beat the war drum.  People will be drawn to that.  Just make sure of one thing.  Don’t actually get into a war.  Don’t listen to your own hate speeches.  If you fall into that trap, people will realize how horrible war is and will turn against you. 

The cause of war is very simple.  Leaders have been stupid.  They have ridden to power on a wave of frustrated hate.  Then they have failed to realize that the frustration has been their power base, not the hate itself.  That may sound like a gloomy assessment, but the bottom line is that we have never realized just how wonderful we humans actually are.  The fact that there is ever peace speaks well of us.  The fact that tolerance is even discussable means that we have risen above the process to a remarkable degree.  We all deserve a pat on the back. 

We shall cease to have wars.

I guarantee it.  One way or the other, the last war will have been fought.  There may be terrible wars before that, but they will end.  Right now, it appears that we will accomplish this by reaching a time when the birth rate is so low and has been low for so long that populations are tiny and fertility cannot be restored by any conceivable mating strategy.  As we have discussed earlier, there is no significant part of the world that is exempt.

The other solution is the good one.  Once people understand the process then it loses its power over us.  If everyone knows that an appropriate degree of kinship is needed, then intolerance loses all of its advantage.  People can have children as they wish to, not as a consequence of chancing to be intolerant.  If we can be as open, as sweet spirited and accepting as we are in spite of so many generations of being selected for the opposite characteristics, then our future one that selection is stifled is bright indeed.

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