Why there is war.

Samakbin asks: Why is there war in the world?

Well, Samakbin, people have been asking this question for centuries. And to a certain degree, we’ll never know the answer. But I do know a few things, and here they are.

First, there is war in the world because there are humans in the world. People are the only species that creates wars. Almost all animals have some sort of fighting that they do, whether to eat or to protect themselves at least. And the more intelligent a species is, the more reasons they find to fight – to win territory or a mate for example. Meanwhile, some animals fight in groups – dogs in the wild fight in packs (not me – my pack is just for awesome talks like this!), and I’m sure you know about how incredibly organized bees and ants are at work and fighting.

But none of them do true war, as we know it. Ants will fight to the death, but they don’t have strategies, tricks, or plans. They are soldiers, but not warriors. There was never an ant like Genghis Khan, or a bee like George Patton – or a dog like George Custer.

Humans are the only animal that truly creates. A beaver can build a great dam, and a spider can weave a gorgeous web, but that’s it – they don’t then look at it and say “hmm, wouldn’t it be more interesting if I made it longer or changed the color!” It’s that human genius that created Beethoven’s Ninth and Bieber’s “Baby.” It created the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the gorgeous pictures of me you see on this site!

And it creates war.

So that’s one answer. But then, you ask, why do people do it? I guess it boils down to two answers. The best of them is that they do it when there’s no other choice. History will tell you how much President Roosevelt struggled to get the United States to join the Allies in World War II, because however much America wanted to stay out of the war, he knew their enemies were too dangerous and had to be stopped. And he’s rightly respected for that.

The other answer, the worst, is because people like it, or at least think they would. Folks hear about how exciting war is, and about how it creates heroes, but they don’t think about how horrible and destructive it is (earthquakes and tornados are exciting and create heroes too, but you don’t hear about people trying to create them!). Every generation seems to relearn this. If you read books or see movies like “The Red Badge of Courage,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” or “Born on the 4th of July” (and let me emphasize – none of these are in any way made for children!), you’ll see the characters learn what’s beneath the beautiful myth of war. I’ll say it simply – I’ve met a lot of veterans of wars, and while they will proudly tell you of the great accomplishments they made or saw, every one of them will tell you that they hate war, that it’s the most horrible thing humans ever created. They might see it as necessary, and be willing to go back to fighting if they’re asked – but they will gladly shout down anyone who thinks it’s fun.

Maybe the best answer, then, that I can give you is that there is war because there is war. One country has the idea that war will get them something they want, so they make war on another country, and it responds by making war back. In that, it’s really not unlike the way two dogs get into a fight – it’s just so much more devastating to the world as a whole.

Now I admit, I’m an outsider. I’m a dog, and I’m lucky enough to have never been in a war, so I don’t understand it at all. But from my outsider’s view, I can say one thing about the human race: For as long as people have made wars, there have also been people developing ways to avoid having them. And it almost feels like every time there’s progress in making peace, there’s also progress at destruction. (For example, the United Nations, which has the potential to be the greatest accomplishment for peace the world’s ever created, showed up about the same time as the first atomic bombs!)

So I’d like to ask YOU a question, readers! It’s the opposite of Samakbin’s question: How can we avoid having wars in this world? What can you do to make peace? There are lots of ways – including, strange as it may sound, having a strong defense (after all, the way I avoid dogfights is by being a really good fighter!). But if we can always remember that peace is the real goal, then maybe the world can get better. And that’s something truly worth fighting for.

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