Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize while we are fighting two wars (plus all the pseudo-wars on various things) got me thinking about war and peace.
Establishing a lasting peace is obviously a rather difficult thing. After all, humans seem to have been in a constant state of war since the get go. Even the young United States has been almost constantly at war: Revolutionary Way, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, The Gulf war, the Second Gulf War, and so on. This, of course, does not include all the smaller wars and internal conflicts. Given the history of our species one might suspect that the following describes our fate: a new threat, a new ambition…war without end.
Interestingly, while people often claim that war is intolerable, they are clearly mistaken. We tolerate it quite well. Well enough to, as noted above, keep it going. One reason for this is that we are a highly adaptable species.
On the positive side, this quality allows us to survive terrible things as individuals and as a species. We can become accustomed to harsh conditions, terrible challenges, violence and all manner of things. While some individuals do break and perish, the species as a whole has adapted quite well to war. So well that although we profess to dislike it, we keep it going and going. The irony is, of course, that this survival trait might spell our end. As the saying goes, if we do not end war, then war will one day end us.
Then again, perhaps not. Perhaps we can constantly adapt to new ways of killing and waging war and we will go on, but will go on fighting. Perhaps peace is an impossibility and our natural state is, as Hobbes argued, a state of war.