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Will Humans Ever Stop Fighting Wars? Michael C’s Response

(This week, and next, On Violence and our readers will try to answer the question, “Will humans ever stop fighting wars?” Today’s entry comes from Michael C. Feel free to drop us your response in the comment section, on twitter or by email.)

My gut is to go with the crowd and say, nope we won’t, but I feel like that’s the easy answer. If you say no, you don’t really have to explain yourself. Sure, the Radiolab people and Jon Horgan ask the naysayers “Why?” but they just have to say, “Humanity has always fought wars and always will; it’s human nature.”

But if you dissent, like I want to, then I feel like I must explain what mechanism will prevent mankind from waging war in the future. The onus is all on the affirmative response. The burden of proof falls on the optimist.

In philosophical conundrums like this, I love to find the right analogy to solve the problem, fix the glitch. But finding the perfect analogy--that thing that humans have eradicated but still resembles war--is hard, nee impossible.

Slavery? Nope still doing that in parts of the world.

Financial disasters? I remember in high school believing that the government had put in such effective counter-measures such that another Great Depression couldn’t happen because of proper regulation. Ha!

And wars, while not as widespread or as violent as in the past, still definitely affect large portions of the globe.

What about the growth of technology? I mean, in the 1800s if you had said, “Will man ever eradicate disease?” the response would be “Goodness gracious, sakes alive, no.” Then we developed antibiotics that extended the lifespan of every human on the planet. So while disease hasn’t been eradicated, we’ve pummeled it right good.

Same with flying. Did medieval man think humans would ever fly? They couldn’t comprehend automobiles, let alone flying machines.

Still, conquering nature seems different than conquering human nature, which we haven’t really done. So analogies fail us.

Instead, I’ll go with my gut: we must believe that wars will end, because without that faith, it will never happen. Like runners around the world who couldn’t crack the four minute mile until Bannister did it, humans expand our abilities when we decide that “Yes, we can do this.”

That’s why I say, “Yes, some day humans will stop fighting wars.” Because if I don’t, we never will.

four comments

I feel like the question as it stands may be the reason it is so dificult to answer.

I think the problem is that it requires as prerequisite that the collective of Humans, that Humanity, can reason, think, decide; it makes our species a single entity. I don’t think Humans-the-entity will stop fighting wars.

But I think that I can decide to not fight a war. And I think I can instil that virtue in the new people I eventually create and the people whose lives I influence.

And I think that may be the answer, that through time individuals will work enough of the desire to war out of the moulds of others that there’s no one left who considers it a meaningful option. Maybe it will take longer than we have time on Earth, but I think it can happen.

No matter the approach, though, I think we share the answer – we have to think it will before it will.


@ Matt L – And we can hope, as I’ll argue later today, that more and more humans collectively make that decision.

@ Michael C – I think your answer is still no, but you don’t want it to be.


Saying that humans will stop fighting wars because if we don’t (say and believe it, and I guess work towards it), then it will never happen – that’s not really an argument, that’s a belief. That’s what you want. It’s noble, but it’s not an argument.


Great post Michael. I think the most apt comparison was whether man would ever conquer disease. Unlike flight, the existence of disease is fluid. Gravity and the laws of physics are constant while biology is adaptive. Take influenza. With all the medical advances we have made influenza still kills thousands (yes thousands) each year. In the same way, we fight to overcome war. The solution for both are a long way off, I think.