The Desire for Conflict

There is a fundamental problem with human nature that one could say is the primary thing I try to address with this blog and everything else I write. The problem is: We need to be in constant conflict. We need monsters, we need enemies. If all is well, we create conflict out of thin air just to satisfy the urge.

This is also the number-one thing that annoys me about people in day-to-day life. Why, oh why, must people fight all the time? (I know I already answered that question; it was rhetorical.)

For the sake of honesty, I have to admit this is where I differ vastly from my fellow primates (which is what makes me question whether my theory is even correct). I have never enjoyed conflict. I have never needed it. I actively avoid it, which somehow seems to only attract more. As if people see an easy target in me, but then when they attack and find out I’m not thin-skinned or naïve, they get even more angry (more on that later).

As a child, I occupied my free time doing two things: Playing video games like Mario and Donkey Kong, and studying the world around me through observation and reading. Basically, all throughout my life, at any given moment my attitude has always been, “Wanna do something fun together?” or “Please leave me alone.” Playing and pondering are what I’m best at. I like goofing off, and I need to understand the things around me.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before (a statement I find myself saying a lot now), my brother never stopped being in competitive mode unless he was asleep. He and our sister both, actually. Always playing sports, or arguing with someone, or complaining about something. During the second half of my childhood they both went out of their way to push my buttons simply because they could. On several occasions my brother outright admitted he enjoyed it. One time he added one of my female friends on Facebook, whom he had never once met in life, and said it was simply to get a reaction out of me (even though I had no reaction to it).

We’ve all had friends and even relatives who thrive on drama. There are always those people who need to make up rumors and spread gossip at any cost, even if it means completely fabricating the story from thin air.

Are the people I’ve mentioned a special case? I don’t think so. I think human nature and its many aspects, is an ugly thing if left unchecked. If one does not restrain any part of their nature, whether that involves social interactions, sex, greed, gluttony… that part of their nature will inevitably get out of control. This doesn’t inherently make the person bad, or evil. These things are addictive. And like any addiction, the more you have, the more you require to get the same level of satisfaction as before.

My siblings are all hotheads. I don’t know if I am or not, because at a very young age, I saw how easily the smallest thing could set them off, and being the youngest, I didn’t want to turn out like that. This is how and why I’ve always kept my emotions in check. Am I like my siblings deep, deep down? Possibly. But if hotheadedness is in me somewhere, if it hasn’t come out by now, it apparently never will.

Nobody will ever admit this to themselves, but conflict must feel good. The challenge of fighting an opponent, the euphoric reward of achieving victory… There’s a reason most people vent their anger by, well, venting it. It feels good. Screaming, flailing about… It makes you want to do it again when the occasion arises. Same goes with achieving victory, in any circumstance.

All these things derive from our need to survive. We need food, we need social status, we need to find mates… Gossip, for example, is an immature way to pass information, but it’s nonetheless derived from the necessity of passing information among our tribe. Same goes with the rush of being in a fight; it’s derived from the (past) necessity of slaying predators, catching game, or conquering rival tribes.

Look at the current political climate. More divisive than ever, despite the fact that there are no major wars right now (let alone a World War, or a Civil War), and violent crimes are at an all-time low. I believe, quite strongly, that our political climate is so divisive because times are so great. Our human nature hasn’t changed – we still need to fight monsters – but when times are this good, where we aren’t fighting for survival on a daily basis, or even for social acceptance, that fighting instinct starts getting desperate, looking for any target it can possibly find. Like always holding a weapon you don’t need.

Ever notice that nearly every time someone gets angry with you about something, regardless if you sympathize with their grievance or not, if you remain calm that always aggravates the person even more? Or is it just me? Like a dog picking a fight with a cat; the cat remains calm the entire time, striking only when necessary, but the dog can’t help but jump around, barking manically, and flailing about. Whenever someone gets angry at me simply because I am not also angry, it always reminds me, in the moment, of that part of human nature that craves conflict. The part that desperately desires to overpower and conquer. I’m reminded how we are animals, and how no amount of dressing up, or wearing fragrances, or stylish hair, or keeping straight posture will ever change that fact. It seems when I stay calm while the other person can’t, they get enraged from knowing they are failing at bringing me down.

When I look through my archive of blog posts, what stands out to me most is this very subject. The subject of controlling one’s own nature. People don’t seem to prioritize controlling their own nature, especially the inner desire for constant conflict. From personal drama, to road rage, to full-scale war… Were this NOT the case, I would have damn near nothing to ever write about on this blog, or even in my books. I like that thought. It’d be nice if the world had no conflict, or mistreatment, or injustice. There’s an inner primitive animal inside us all. We are still using the same brains our species had 50,000 years ago. The same organs, the same hormones, the same senses, all geared to the same purposes. Conflict is how all animals survive. Survival of the fit. Survival of those strong enough to live to reproduce.

I’m not saying all conflict fits into this categorization. Sometimes disagreements/miscommunications occur and both sides simply get frustrated. But, to me it seems obvious that most conflicts that take place every day all around the world are not the result of that.

We don’t have to fight so much anymore. Yet, we do. It’s still everywhere.

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