TED Conversations

Rodrigo P. Feliciano

Knights of Columbus


This conversation is closed.

Are tensions, conflicts, and wars permanent part of the human condition? How can we avoid wars or mitigate the ravages of war?

There have conflicts and wars throughout human history. For the last 100 years alone there have been: First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghanistan War, and many regional wars or conflicts too many to mention.


Closing Statement from Rodrigo P. Feliciano

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children." Jimmy Carter

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
Albert Einstein

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"To seriously mitigate conflict, we must alter present human nature... which must involve genetically "tweaking" our brains, I fear." Brendan Maloney

"We can solve problems that we understand. War has not been solved, and so I propose that it is not yet well enough understood." Lawrence Cox

  • Mar 24 2014: IMO, the reason for suffering is ignorance. Ignorance bred from artificial separation from each other, such as economic, social, national differences, etc. Once we realize we are all one, all the same from birth, can we truly be freed from such destructive ignorance. The problem isn't so much with the 'Human Condition' as it is with the 'Human Conditioning'.
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      Mar 24 2014: What a thought, Michael. What a difference "ing" makes when used properly.
      • Mar 24 2014: it that a schipperke?
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          Mar 24 2014: Hi Wayne,

          It's Luke, a 6-lb Pomeranian-Chihuahua. I know Luke looks like a schipperke. Thank you for noticing.
    • Mar 25 2014: And what is ' human conditioning ' ?
      I would describe it as active ignorance of ignorance.
      • Mar 25 2014: IMO, That would be a fairly accurate estimation. The 'active ignorance' is caused by fear, fear of a supposed inability in ourselves to understand our rationale.
        • Mar 27 2014: "What is love?"
          "The total absence of fear," said the Master.
          "What is it we fear?"
          "Love," said the Master.
          Thank you !
      • Mar 26 2014: "active ignorance of ignorance" Complacency?
        • Mar 27 2014: Complacency is coupled with fear, the fear to loose it. It makes complacence a verb. In this sense, yes , it can be called active ignorance.
          If we knew who we really are we would have nothing to loose but fear.
    • Apr 3 2014: War is the ultimate expression of cooperation and altruism.
      • Apr 3 2014: I'm afraid I don't understand your logic here, could you elaborate?
        • Apr 4 2014: It's extremely simple to understand: If an "army" were made up of self-centered individualists, they would refuse to cooperatively place themselves at risk of death for the sake of "a nation", or of "family", or of any collective gain or promise of gain. Modern warfare is not conducted by mercenaries. It is conducted (on the ground, by the ordinary soldiers) by people who have set aside their selfish gains and are behaving altruistically, accepting death for a "greater" cause--or at least a cause they consider to be "greater" than their own personal existences. Altruism. Likewise, armies CANNOT EXIST without cooperation. Officer says "Go up that hill and capture that emplacement." Soldiers work together--cooperate--to do it. A pack of extreme individualists would say "Screw you. We won't even wear the same uniform, much less take that emplacement." Then they'll fight against each other as much as they might fight against an "enemy".

          Expand your mind and abandon your indoctrination. Apply rational thought.
    • Apr 3 2014: Yeah, cute idea. Won't work. Brothers kill each other. Children kill parents. Parents kill children. Feel-good airy-fairy nonsense won't fix things.
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        Apr 3 2014: Wit to a high degree. Unusual talent. I wish I have it, Bryan!
      • Apr 3 2014: Unfortunately, adults with a distorted psychological view kill people all the time, however, I fail to see an example of a very young child who kills wantonly. I do see examples of children convicted of killing friends, etc. but these children are arguably at the age where they are positively and/or negatively influenced by the society around them...such as violence on television, violent role models, etc.
  • Mar 24 2014: Each individual needs to change within themselves before this world will show that change. :)
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      Mar 24 2014: Hi Mattrick,

      Yes, you're right! There must be someone or something that will act as a catalyst for positive change to accelerate the process. Best wishes ...
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    Mar 21 2014: Hello Rodrigo,

    The answer to your first question is "yes"; due to:
    (a). War is big business, and
    (b). War is believed to be "necessary" because of the consciousness of "lack".

    The answer to your second question is in a short poem I wrote a few years ago:
    Of all the many states that engender war
    our own inner state is most responsible, for sure
    since that which is within is always projected out
    that’s why we always have wars, no doubt;
    so then, if we were all to cultivate inner peace …
    wars would cease.
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      Mar 21 2014: Hi Joshua,

      The current state of our world is getting more dire every minute. The more reason why conversations like this are important. Embracing our common humanity is our best hope.

      Keep writing and sharing ...wish you well, my friend!
      • Mar 24 2014: One of the dirty little secrets of democratic thought is the democratization of warfare. Before the ascendency of democratic philosophy, "total warfare" was impossible. The idea that warfare was something of and by "the people" as a whole, which made "the people" as a whole legitimate targets would have struck a medieval warlord as absurd. To him, "the people" were a resource to be fought over, and damaging them unduly would reduce his potential gains. To the modern leader, "the people" of the other side are demonic entities and the world will only be improved by their elimination and replacement with his own "the people".

        The benefits of democratization are too great to abandon this philosophy, but it also came with costs, costs that we need to stop ignoring and figure out a way to minimize.
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    Apr 2 2014: I can't believe nobody mentioned:
    (did nobody do so?)
    We will see the end of wars in our lifetime (at least wars with human casualties), there will be 2 strong trends that will cause its extinction.
    First, the empowerment of the individual. Wars are fought because benefits are presumed greater than its risk. For a despot it is relatively easy to risk other people's lives, for personal benefit. For the individual the risk of war (dying) can practically never outway its benefit. This is why democracies (almost) never went to war with each other, a war would not make any rational sense, since it would incur great losses on the cumulative wealth of both nations, whilst carrying high risks. With GDP per capita increasing (tremendously in developing nations) and democracies becoming more and more common, war will become ever less accepted.
    Secondly, transparency. The world is becoming ever more transparent, enabling the global community to empathize with fellow human beings across the world. As an example, if the world and Germany itself would have been fully aware of the full extend of all the horrors commited by the Nazi regime, they would reacted much bolder and swifter. An other example is how photojournalism in Vietnam fuelled the public outcry in the US that marked the end of that war.
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      Apr 2 2014: Victor, your contribution carries a hopeful message and tremendous possibilities for humankind. Thank you,
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    Mar 29 2014: All conflict between people arises from a narrow focus on self-interest. This is true on an individual basis, and it expands through shared experience to groups of any and all sizes: ethnic groups, nations, alliances. Ego-based self-interest tends to be fear-based.

    The alternative is to expand the personal view to include others, expanding to ultimately include all beings, human and non-human alike. We need to learn to see that our narrow, individual self-interest is based on an illusion of independence. In reality, we are all in this together; we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. Because of this inescapable fact, whatever we do to another, we also do to ourselves. If we harm others, we ultimately harm ourselves; if not in the short term, most certainly in the long-term.

    There is a common misconception or misperception that survival of the fittest means an individual or group must act in self defense, and even go on the offensive, in order to prosper and survive. In actuality, the fittest are those who learn to live most harmoniously with all others so everyone can thrive. This means cooperation and mutual encouragement and support provide the greatest long-term survival value. Such an approach is love-based; love being what draws us together and unites us.

    The unanswerable question is: will we ever learn to adopt this approach in life ... before we exterminate ourselves?
    • Mar 29 2014: "..unanswerable.." Answerable.
    • Apr 3 2014: Exactly wrong. If everyone were completely self-interested, nobody would cooperate in an army. The soldiers would shoot the officers and go home.
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        Apr 5 2014: Sorry, Bryan, but self-interest manifests in many ways, one of the most common being compliance with a system because one is more fearful of the consequence of not complying than of "following orders." This fear may be of the "enemy" and/or it may be of the officers and/or it may be a fear of being perceived as being fearful. There is also the aspect of peer pressure, which is very powerful whether it's real or imagined. If it's not fear driven conformity, it may be due to "mass psychology" - getting caught up in the fervor of it all. Or it may be due to pride, the desire to excel, the need to prove one's self.

        All such motivations can be rationalized as the best possibility for assuring self-preservation. All such motivations can appear to manifest as relatively harmonious cooperation for a common cause and purpose. Cooperation in an army is an example of group-self-interest overriding personal-self-interest. The army-self-interest may be (more or less) representative of national-self-interest which is in conflict with the group-self-interest of some outside group. The alternative is to expand the view sufficiently to realize that all groups on Earth share common interests that should override all perceived group-self-interests and individual-self-interests.
        • Apr 5 2014: Therefore, in your model, THERE IS NO AND CANNOT BE ANY SUCH THING AS ALTRUISM! Everything is self-interest in your model. Or are you just making up silly rubbish like "group-self-interest". Sounds like jibber-jabber psychobabble to me. How do you actually refute Dr. Leakey's hypothesis?
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        Apr 5 2014: Bryan, you're not really in a position to shout out such declarations regarding my model. Go back and re-read my initial comment and note the parts you seem to have missed as you narrowed your focus on parts you decided to disagree with. And perhaps relax a bit and be open to some constructive dialog.

        As we come to know and appreciate that we are all in this together and that love is ultimately more significant and stronger than fear, there will come a realization that what we do to/for another, we also do to/for ourselves. Altruism is a manifestation of this, although altruism, as lofty as it may seem, is really only the beginning; only a shadow of the free and full expression of Love for all beings. I'm talking about what people commonly call "unconditional love" which is the only kind of Love there is - anything else is no more than a business deal: "I will love you IF you do something for me."

        Behavior based entirely on apparent self-interest is very 'mechanical' behavior. We behave like machines when our buttons are pushed, when we get yanked around, when we collide with other beings like bumper cars crashing our ways through life, and we perceive most of what we encounter as a potential threat. Behavior that arises as an expression of Love is more conscious. It arises out of our realization that we are all in this together; we are all intimately and inextricably interconnected and interdependent. When that becomes *real* for us, it becomes the very basis for all we think, feel and do. It becomes an unavoidable and all-compelling call in life to be of service to others which, in reality, is also being of service to our self. This is above and beyond what we commonly call altruism.
    • Apr 5 2014: "The unanswerable question is: will we ever learn to adopt this approach in life ..."

      There are no answers, only choices :)
  • Mar 23 2014: Perhaps Nature will be the eventual answer or peacemaker. With the ultimate effects of climate change largely unknown we can see with what is happening now that our lives will change drastically if what is predicted or guessed at happens. There may well come a time when we are too busy trying to survive to be concerned with power struggles and covetousness to fight wars.

    I don't see this as a Noah's ark situation but a gradual realization that unless we get control of ourselves we will lose mankind. Interestingly enough, we don't really know if this has happened at some point in pre-history.
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      Mar 24 2014: Nature unifying Mankind. That's one possibility, Malcolm.
    • Apr 3 2014: Natural peace: Extinction.
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        Apr 3 2014: How much more time do we have, Bryan?
        • Apr 3 2014: No clue. That's the truth. I don't know, but if we do stupid things like try to leave it up to "nature" or seek some kind of "natural" solution that doesn't exist, that will be the end situation.
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          Apr 4 2014: Huge asteroid or meteor impact, nuclear war, pestilence and famine, catastrophic climate change, super-volcanic eruption or a combination of these ...

          "I don't think we're going to make it," John Doerr says in an emotional talk about climate change and investment. To create a world fit for his daughter to live in, he says, we need to invest now in clean, green energy.

          John Doerr, Silicon Valley's legendary moneyman, is afraid of eco-apocalypse. After building his reputation (and a considerable fortune) investing in high-tech successes, he's turning his focus toward green technologies, and hoping it isn't too late.

  • Mar 21 2014: As long as we human beings won't stop being too clever like fox or wolf tensions , conflicts and wars were , are and will be permanent. Human beings are the worst form of animals , who are afraid to go to hell but build hell on earth in the hope that they will get heaven after death.
    • Mar 24 2014: We are apes. We need to remember that. When we admit to our biological framework instead of insanely denying it, then we can make it work for us instead of being controlled by it.
      • Mar 25 2014: Let us dig deeper , we are God Particles,Quarks,Photon,Electrons,protons and neutrons and creating big bangs here and there.
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        Mar 25 2014: Bryan, please elaborate: "We are apes. We need to remember that. When we admit to our biological framework instead of insanely denying it, then we can make it work for us instead of being controlled by it."

        A topic on TED Conversations regarding your thesis will enlighten and benefit many of us, you being the most qualified as moderator.

        What struck me is the last sentence of your contribution, ... "we can make it work" ... It is a message of hope and infinite possibilites.

        INFINITE POSSIBILITIES by Ravikant Svateerth

        a painting

        like a


        dear life




        Since I read your piece, I was compelled to "dig deep", but so far what I see is a vast chasm and I need someone to help me see the light. Based on what I've read so far, you are the best person ...
        • Mar 27 2014: "We are apes."
          We are any animal.
          We are any plant.
          We are everything which we think we are not, " there is no dust which has not been alive "
          What we need is a fractal vision, when (if ) we get it, we are angels.

          It's my version, how to make it work :)
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        Mar 26 2014: Bryan, below are some of your contributions about humans and animals:

        "We are apes. We need to remember that. When we admit to our biological framework instead of insanely denying it, then we can make it work for us instead of being controlled by it.

        The Lion King is a cartoon. All the characters are actually human voices with animal shapes drawn around them. There is NO WISDOM AT ALL in "nature", only organisms all trying as hard as they can to grab as much as they can and failing. We succeed. That is the problem. We are the most successful animals. We do what they all do but better..

        We can make that choice. This makes us unique. All the other species will stuff themselves until the food is gone..

        Juvenile nonsense. What planet to we rely on, Mars? Re rely on "mother" (silly concept) Earth as much as any other Earth species does. The other animal species understand NOTHING about "laws". They just lack the capacity we have. We merely do better what every other species does.

        Drop your superstitions..

        Wrong. Only humans know anything about this "balance". Other animals respect NOTHING. They merely take all they have the power to take and can't take any more. Their reach is limited, and the foolish think that makes them moral. All animals except humans always expand to the limits of their ability to exploit resources and resist the environment and competitors. Drop this silly superstition you have..

        Humans. Just because..

        Those animals know NOTHING. They just hunt as much as they can.."
        • Mar 27 2014: Nature is the only wisdom which is available. Nature runs its business wisely for bl. of years, we, humans have emerged quite recently out of nature; on this scale it happened 10sec. ago. And now we dare to say
          There is NO WISDOM AT ALL in "nature"
          "...animals know NOTHING."
          And we, humans are so ignorant/arrogant that we think that we know a lot!
          Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one's awareness of one's ignorance.
          Sorry ! :)
        • Apr 3 2014: And what is your point? That I don't wallow in childish, superstitious nonsense? Well, I don't. There is NO MIND in "nature". It just IS. There is NO WISDOM in "nature". It just IS. It IS regardless of whether or not we exist. It DOES NOT CARE about anything living or unliving. Superstitious rubbish and tripe spewed in the name of "nature" fixes nothing. We must become open-eyed and aware. No other organism voluntarily restricts its exploitation of the environment. They only stop or slow down when lack of ability or an external factor FORCES them to slow down. We (sometimes) voluntarily restrain ourselves.

          We must stop making up childish little fairy tales about "balance" and "nature" and see the universe as it is. Then we can start sensibly engaging in husbandry of resources.

          I think part of the lack of understanding is because many people are tied to the ridiculous, cultish dogma that "natural is good". Natural is not good. Natural is not bad. Natural exists, neither good nor bad.

          Of course, the superstitious and cultists will persist in their inane blabber.
  • Apr 2 2014: hello everyone present here! m new here n dis is my first comment! i want to say sumthing on dis topic!!

    one of our friends said " There must be
    someone or something that will act
    as a catalyst for change to accelerate
    the process."

    i think we all can become catalysts!!
    We can learn to be the catalysts for our own change... dere is dis quote saying "be the change u want to see in d wrld"

    certainly no one wants war and hatred but den too wars happen!!! isn't den v r sumwere not true wid ourselves!! r v not lying to ourselves!!
    we can initiate peace if we all TOGETHER work for it cos chamge is and was never a one man process!!!

    thanku for reading my comment!!!
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    Mar 30 2014: Hi Natasha,

    You ask "When do we reach our ' point of enoughness'?"
    I would say this is obviously a matter of subjective experience. And it can vary depending on which area of life (work, relationships, life-style). For example, some people have a huge tolerance for dysfunctional relationships before they reach their "point of enoughness"; but may have very little tolerance in their work-situation when does not work well for them.
    But it is always our subjective experience that tells us when some external "trigger" (what we interpret as a negative experience) crosses our personal threshold of "bad enough", after which we are then prepared to change our beliefs and take alternative action and behave differently.

    Yes, there are other ways. I would also say that we can cultivate sensitivity and awareness to our own personal "points of enoughness" so that we make smaller changes sooner, rather than wait until a big crisis hits. A small irritation is in fact enough to give us the information we need in order to convert the "negative experience" into its more mature counterpart. If we do this daily, we avoid the build-up of unprocessed "negative experiences" which will otherwise eventually explode as a crisis - an "in-yer-face point of enoughness" that we cannot miss.

    I would say the key quality we need to do this type of inner work, is total self-honesty - which in itself draws on our own courage.
    • Apr 4 2014: Joshua,
      thanks for responding and sorry for the delay with my respond, i found your post only now.
      I think, that everything and i do mean everything is structured as a fractal, i mean, that the same pattern repeats itself on different scales, iow. what varies is a scale of observation/experience not the essence. In our context what works for an individual 'point of enoughness' has the same pattern of developmental processes on much bigger scale, which is hidden from us.
      What is the point of enoughness on environmental global humanity scale ?
      Obviously we've missed 'small irritations' , we've ignored "bad enough" and continue business as usual. Now we can't distinguish global from environmental and neither of these from human crisis, it's concrescence.
      Would you agree that it looks like the point of enoughness of everything ?
      What wakes us up and when ?
      You say :
      "the key quality we need to do this type of inner work, is total self-honesty - which in itself draws on our own courage."
      Yes, but on a global scale what it must be ? Individual =global, a paradigm shift ?
      Do you think it's happening ? If yes, where do you see it ?

      Thank you !
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        Apr 7 2014: Hello Natasha,
        {By mistake I replied in the box below your comment, rather than via the "reply" button, hence my reply was not so obvious to find; sorry}
        Your question is what makes the study of history so interesting; what (if any) singular events are the trigger-tipping-point for a global shift in consciousness? Maybe Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her place on that bus in Montgomery in 1955 catalyzing the bus boycott in the civil rights movement is one example - at least nationwide, if not global.
        Perhaps that first photo of "spaceship earth" taken from the moon was another moment of a "collective point of enoughness"; the holocaust another.

        From my own personal experience and of those whom I know well, we are not really prepared to make an internal shift unless it's "real bad". But "real bad" is all subjective. In which case your "fractal" argument (with which I agree) would suggest things have to get a lot worse on planet earth before a global point-of-enoughness is reached. Not very optimistic.
        Perhaps the Edward Snowden debate (see his talk on TED talks) is part of a new shift.

        If you are not familiar with Jonathan Fields, then watch his interview with Vani Hari (http://www.goodlifeproject.com/vani-hari-food-babe/) and dozens of others who had a "point of enoughness" which triggered a changed way of thinking in their lives (eg: http://www.goodlifeproject.com/lissa-rankin-mind-medicine/ and http://www.goodlifeproject.com/katherine-preston-stutter/ and http://www.goodlifeproject.com/kris-carr-on-living-the-crazy-sexy-life-with-cancer/), and often also leading to some new entrepreneurial venture (eg: http://www.goodlifeproject.com/marie-forleo-heart-hustle-intuition/)
        I think the GoodLifeProject also shows how the world paradigm can be changed - one person at a time.
        • Apr 11 2014: Hi, Joshua ,thanks for the videos !
          People there tell their personal stories, but i don't think it's 'do it yourself' ' personal voyage; on some level it is, but it's deeper. I think it's a general tendency, ' get a degree, get a job ...be a player ! ' worked much better 2/3 decades ago. What if i don't even want to be in the game?
          Probably, it sounds odd, but i think, that a real change, ' change not willed ' is a ' fractal vision', it is coming to replace the 'vision in perspective', we've been into for more then 500 years.
          I can explain why i think so ( i've never been that sure) but it takes too much time and most likely i won't succeed:)
          As for the 'not very optimistic'-real- bad -scenario, i think it's neither optimistic nor pessimistic, it's just the way how things happening. We live in a dual world, nothing gets better before it gets worse. Under the circumstances to be hopeful and without fear accept the inevitable, one need to part with his/her ego. Probably, it's what human 'project' is all about, i don't know, we'll see.
          Thank you !
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      Apr 15 2014: .
      The "point of enoughness" is the optimal point for keeping our DNA alive.
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    Mar 25 2014: Hello again Rodrigo,
    Have you ever noticed a common element amongst those who profit from war?
    (Clue: they are not usually the people at the bottom)

    However, until we really see and understand that our fellow humans are part of us, and we are ultimately one-consciousness, and that we grow as together and not as isolated individuals, then the case for war and conflict ("them who are different vs us who have more special rights than they do") will always be made.

    Ethnic and tribal violence shows that not all conflicts are 'imposed' from the top; they also flare up from the bottom; and everyone can only lose. In both cases, unprocessed emotions play a large part as people continue to be at war with themselves. Centuries of suppressed emotions will not collectively be "processed" overnight.

    But if we want to, each of us can start right where we are and process our own "stuff" and clean up our own back-yards. This will also help us help others without inadvertently dumping our unprocessed stuff on them, thereby not helping at all.

    We are definitely the people we have been waiting for; and the world needs us to do our own bit of cleaning up in our own inner worlds.
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      Mar 28 2014: Joshua, what is the cost of human suffering and human life?
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        Mar 30 2014: Hello Fransisco,

        I would say that the cost of human suffering is proportional to how little we learn from it. In other words, the less we learn from human suffering, the more it costs. Why? Because more suffering will have to happen until we begin to learn from it.

        Given the amount of human suffering over the ages, and currently, it would seem that the human race is very slow at learning. And what types of things can we learn from human suffering? I would suggest that we can learn how deeply we are connected with each other; we can learn to take action locally (for suffering is all around us). And we can learn how to lessen our own suffering through greater self-knowledge and self-understanding - in this way we can make our contribution to lessening suffering in the world.

        I'm interested to know what you think the cost is - you have made some interesting other comments elsewhere.
    • Apr 3 2014: The people at the bottom still cooperate and still act voluntarily. No major war was ever fought with either side manned by unwilling soldiers. When the soldiers became unwilling, they mutinied. Enough such mutinies can bring a leadership down. When the altruistic impulse is overwhelmed by self-preservation, armies disintegrate.
  • Mar 25 2014: Conflict is a working definition for EGO.
    Let's go inside our own heads and look at the world as we are used to doing, seeing it ' out there' from the perspective of ' in here'. A conflict is inevitable. Then watch the shift in perception that happens when that perspective is reversed. One will see the immense depth... the interconnectedness of all phenomena...there will be no room for conflicts tensions wars. In order to stop wars hence survive we should become such creatures with 'reversed perception'. If we fail, why should we survive ?
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      Mar 25 2014: Hello Natasha,
      "If we fail, why should we survive?"
      Good question.
      The answer is possibly to do with growth in awareness and consciousness. Expansion in love, joy, peace, compassion, etc., (ie: expansion towards truth), is unlimited, infinite.
      But contraction in awareness toward isolation, ego, confusion, cruelty, war, etc., is (I believe) limited by a default mechanism of universal laws of "how things work". Some built-in survival awareness kicks in when in the depths of horror, and we reach our "point of enoughness", and are then open to see things differently, allow inner change and thereby act differently.
      • Mar 27 2014: Hi, Joshua !
        When do we reach our ' point of enoughnress " ?
        Probably, when everything gets even worse.
        Or are there any other ways ?
    • Apr 3 2014: If the soldiers were all selfish, they wouldn't work together as an army.
      • Apr 4 2014: Why do soldiers/armies exist in the first place ?
        If powerful EGO, individual or collective had not been scared (but it is , always !!!) there would be no wars.
        btw, being selfish and being obsessed by unbridled ego differs like seasickness from cancer.
        Hope you see the difference :)
  • Mar 25 2014: We naturally aspire towards greatness, but differ in our perception of what is driving us and of how our utopian ideal is to be realised. We co-operate and build towers of Babel towards our image of Heaven on Earth; then fight for autonomy and a right to ascendency. Corporatocracy reaches its zenith through its idol and value of an immediacy of power being experienced in the physical world, through its acquisition and manipulation of wealth and privilege. A religious fundamentalist locates power and wealth within a spiritual afterlife; determining that physical life should be oriented towards a devotion of that highest value and attainment. Where is paradise to be found, within life, without and should we be all-mighty and act as Gods ourselves or humble ourselves in our image of God? There is confusion and conflicting views as to the role of the human in how they are called and/or able to interpret and actualise an image of greatness and power.

    Proudly erect and nestled within a cocoon of self-righteousness, an adversary of another does not look with humility at what their hands and feet are doing in terms of destroying a bearing capacity of life on earth. Confusion is healthy and part of an evolution of humanity, as it invites introspection, contemplation, an opportunity for reconciliation and a re-adjustment of world view. It is when confusion and uncertainty are held with low tolerance, as to do otherwise would invite the release of control and begin to crumble an inner wall of value and devotedness of worship, being seen as weak, that an Armageddon perpetuates.
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      Mar 25 2014: Hello Louise,
      Great comment, and welcome to TED conversations.
  • Mar 24 2014: Rodrigo, thanks for the thumbs up..
    As you might have guessed, I was up late and just got the ball rolling and my thoughts
    kept shifting into other areas that I feel strongly about.

    As I've aged, I've studied the human condition. It is a sad compromise with geographic
    governments drawing their lines in the sand and claiming the land for themselves. Not
    for the peoples they govern. I've heard that George W. Bush owns a huge ranch down
    in Honduras or in that neighborhood. For a lousy oil businessman, he sure has made
    the big bucks.

    Until the populations of the world can figure out how to provide for everyone, we are
    going to continue to suffer from our overlords, and pay for their excesses. Wars and
    Conflicts of the 20th Century have continued regardless of Obama promises. It was
    to be expected.

    Obama is the current selection of the two political parties that in-private pre-select a slate
    of candidates far in advance, and pay the media to popularize their choices. Presidents,
    Senators, and Representatives are selected, and vetted from back rooms and behind closed
    doors. After holding a convention to get the party membership to choose their new leaders,
    an election is held and the most popular candidates move into Washington DC, or in lower
    governments, move into State, City, and Township government offices and legislatures.
    It is indeed a fun game for those on top. They ride a heady trip. Only fears are exposure
    of criminal acts, and some moral one's also. The topmost retire and take their seats at the
    back room selection table, and join in picking the next leaders.

    Say it isn't so. But, you know it is. This is America today, after 237 years.
    We the people today stand around wondering; "What the hell happened?"

    Most of our taxes have gone to build a military not to be screwed with.
    That means what you think. Enforcement and Power to Intimidate.
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      Mar 24 2014: Hi Frank, the fate of the world rests upon the shoulders of men and women whom we hope to be wise. Some moments when I just want to be in eternal state of ignorance.

      IGNORANCE IS BLISS by Thomas Gray

      71 Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
      72 Then whirl the wretch from high,
      73 To bitter Scorn a sacrifice,
      74 And grinning Infamy.
      75 The stings of Falsehood those shall try,

      76 And hard Unkindness' altered eye,
      77 That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
      78 And keen Remorse with blood defiled,
      79 And moody Madness laughing wild
      80 Amid severest woe.

      81 Lo, in the vale of years beneath
      82 A grisly troop are seen,
      83 The painful family of Death,
      84 More hideous than their Queen:
      85 This racks the joints, this fires the veins,

      86 That every labouring sinew strains,
      87 Those in the deeper vitals rage:
      88 Lo, Poverty, to fill the band,
      89 That numbs the soul with icy hand,
      90 And slow-consuming Age.

      91 To each his sufferings: all are men,
      92 Condemned alike to groan;
      93 The tender for another's pain,
      94 The unfeeling for his own.
      95 Yet ah! why should they know their fate?

      96 Since sorrow never comes too late,
      Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
      97 And happiness too swiftly flies.
      98 Thought would destroy their paradise.
      99 No more; where ignorance is bliss,
      100 'Tis folly to be wise."

      Thomas Gray, 26 December 1716 – 30 July 1771, was born in Cornhill, London, the son of an exchange broker and a milliner. He was the fifth of 12 children, and the only child of Philip and Dorothy Gray to survive infancy. He lived with his mother after she left his abusive father.

      He was educated at Eton College where his uncle was one of the masters. He recalled his schooldays as a time of great happiness, as is evident in his Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. Gray was a delicate and scholarly boy who spent his time reading and avoiding athletics.


      Let's keep HOPE alive, my friend...
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    Mar 24 2014: The animal kingdom is supported by the plant kingdom. It is the balance of nature. When that balance is offset, conditions exist that will no longer support all of life. Darwin said it thus; "all living organisms reproduce themselves in greater numbers than can survive, there must always be competition between variants...". This is true for both plant and animal varieties. We have the power to understand this, but not the nature to control it. It is the pressures of survival that lead to conflict and war because people will not simply choose to die and let others survive in their stead.

    Conflicts arise on fear of death or starvation. Every government tries to do its best for its own people. And conflicts arise when people are no longer able to survive under the current conditions. We see only the results, but we often fail to see what leads up to it. When there is conflict, there is also fear that one will not be able to survive unless something changes. The conflict is an attempt to bring about change that will increase one's survival capacity.

    Presently there are about 10,000 souls that perish everyday due to starvation or want of simple medicines. Most people are blind to these statistics, but they are very real to those who won't make it another day. What do you want them to do? Many won't give up the ghost without a fight.

    Add to this the animal instinct to achieve "TOP MALE" position. Many conquest wars were fought based on this instinct. How leaders choose to solve problems are based on the perceived threat. When President Kennedy chose to challenge the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis, he was dealing with a potential threat to Washington DC. How far he would have gone can only be imagined. But it is not inconceivable that had the Soviet Union failed to back down, that we possibly might not be having this conversation today.

    Your question is deeply philosophical, and one that will continue to be asked for generations to come.
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      Mar 24 2014: Roy,

      As we write our contributions to TED Conversations, history seems to be repeating itself! Let's hope there will be "more generations to come."
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        Mar 24 2014: There is a movie called "The Day the Earth Stood Still". It has dialog about changes that occur when life is on the edge of a precipice.

        Most evolutionary changes were driven by forces beyond its control, but it moved on to where we are now. We are often too caught up in the moment to see that nature restores balance in its own way. This was the driving force for ancient religions, that we are part of something much bigger than us. We have to go beyond "I" to see the big picture.

        I believe that once we can get beyond ourselves, that we will be able to become involved in where evolution is taking us. Life has rebounded from far worse than what we are seeing. Take courage my friend, this too shall pass.
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          Mar 24 2014: Thank you, Roy.

          An Old Irish Blessing:

          May love and laughter light your days,
          and warm your heart and home.
          May good and faithful friends be yours,
          wherever you may roam.
          May peace and plenty bless your world
          with joy that long endures.
          May all life's passing seasons
          bring the best to you and yours!
        • Apr 8 2014: There is no "balance", there is only an illusion of "balance" demanded by people who are afraid to admit to the fundamental dynamic nature of life and even of physical existence, with or without life. Balance is a comforting lie.
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    Mar 20 2014: You've got it right. Wars, conflicts, tension; all are part of the mix called humanity. We've got the best of us, the worst of us, and everything in between.

    We usually feel strongly about our opinions, and if we are powerful we are usually faced with the temptation to force our opinions on others. We are hardly aware of our selfishness, which sometimes expresses itself in our extreme insensitivity. We vilify 'others' and we see our culture/worldview/opinion as the right way. In most cases as 'the only right way'.

    As a writer I know that conflicts are important in order for a story to be engaging.
    Humanity is a story; and there are billions of it under the sun.
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      Mar 21 2014: The value of contrast: There's no light without dark, yin without yang, good without evil, peace without war!
  • Mar 20 2014: "Si vis pacem, para belum" [L]: If you wish peace, prepare for war.
    Forgotten languages sometimes put it best and most simply.
    I believe in creative chaos, governed only by our best intentions.
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      Mar 20 2014: Thoughtful contribution, Hilary!
      • Mar 22 2014: Thanks :) - I've discovered some surprising moments of satiation, in the furled pages of my Merriam-Webster 1989 Edition. I also like to check in with the softer yet equally authoritative voice of biological mitigation when possible. Perhaps you’ve heard of Bruce Lipton - to me he is one of the more skilled educators in confronting the human condition through scientific and linguistic relativity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0aHgkfKKbM
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          Mar 23 2014: Hilary, thank you for your suggestion ... and love your sentences too ...
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      Mar 21 2014: If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
      - Mother Teresa
  • MR T

    • +1
    Apr 18 2014: Guy called Robert Zapolsky was studying a nasty troop of baboons for 20 years until one day some of them ate contaminated meat and died. Turned out it was the big, testosterone fuelled males that were always fighting that had died. The social dynamic in the group completely changed, now 20 years on they still rarely fight and spend most of their time grooming each other.
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      Apr 18 2014: MR T, please provide more details and insights to your interesting story.
  • Apr 15 2014: I humble think that organized violence is the best and most specific characteristic of Humans. This is what differentiated us from all other beings of the planet. This is what Nature or God came out with as the top (so far) way to perpetuate life. Life self preservation and self development is the only goal of Nature or God, direct result of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The reduction of Entropy (I think Pierre Theilhard du Chardin wrote this first) can be done only through Life expansion and, as a result of the first, increasing the Information (Von Neumann's several discoveries). So, eliminating or curbing this most basic human asset is to endanger not only the Human Race but the Life as a whole. I am not talking about Spencer's theories but about Darwinian Law of Nature. And since we assume we are not alone in the Universe (" if it's just us... it seems like an awful waste of space" ) for the benefit of all humans we better keep this edge. I fully subscribe to Brian Maloney's point of view adding that we should keep in mind also the benefits resulting from wars. Sic !
    The living forms are mostly individualist. Some are just violent (sharks, cats, viruses). Some mostly cooperative (ants, coral, bees) but only Humans are able to deliver organized violence in favor of the Human Race.
    However, a peaceful era, full of love, cooperation, altruism and integration into nature looks very much (keeping the Primate's attributions) as a Chimpanzee World. And not even then.
    A special attention to Michael Avelar's Human Conditionng. Self Induce Conditioning, Imposed Conditioning, Events' Drive Conditioning etc
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    Apr 14 2014: 'There have (been) conflicts and wars throughout human history.'

    As for extrapolation we have to consider what you correctly observed, doesn't the answer to your questions becomes self-explanatory?
  • Apr 13 2014: Ironically, exploiting greed may be the answer. Not dumb greed, but smart greed. Smart enough to know that militarism (in a world where weapons of mass extinction are proliferating) is a dead-end street for humanity. Smart enough to know that suppressing hostilities violently is costlier than resolving hostilities benevolently.
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      Apr 13 2014: Danny, hope something like you said works - RESOLVING HOSTILITIES BENEVOLENTLY!
  • Apr 11 2014: Why do so many people have such a hard time separating personal conflicts from warfare? They are DIFFERENT THINGS. It is silly and childish to think that warfare is merely personal conflicts on a large scale. It isn't. If it were, then governments would not have to work so hard to propagandize their own people to treat warfare as if it were a personal conflict. The two issues are separate and need to be treated separately.
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      Apr 11 2014: Hello Bryan,

      Sometimes I have to read your remarks or replies several times in order to grasp at least some parts of what you're saying. I suppose some of our fellow TEDsters are in the same situation.

      On some topics, you just have to give a lecture and elaborate, Herr Professor!

      Have a nice weekend!
  • Apr 5 2014: Thank you Rodrigo for reminding us to resolve the most important question. There will be no peace and prosperity until the answer to your question is thoroughly understood.
    Humans will steal, rather than starve. They will revolt, when repressed. They will terrorize, when brutalized and they will kill, rather than be killed. So, given an eternal context of oppression, war is inherent. The question then becomes, can we eliminate the context of oppression. I say we can.
    The origin of oppression always was insufficient resources, now it is insufficient recognition of sufficient resources. We have the technology to create a decent standard of living for everyone. Energy is not a finite resource. Wealth, as the capacity to nurture and accommodate human life, is not finite.
  • Apr 5 2014: thnnkew everyone!!! :)
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    Mar 31 2014: This is a great question, and I'll keep my response short. Allow me to precursor this with one statement: I am an idealist.

    We've been conditioned to believe that war, tension, conflict is a part of the human experience. We've been taught that over the course of history, war has always existed. I believe, because we're consistently hounded with the history, we find it impossible to create a different future. I think this is called a composition/division fallacy. Because previous wars have happened, it must be predictive of the future.

    I don't agree with this at all. I think things are changing already- especially with the advancements of technology and internet. I recently read an article in Rolling Stone magazine with Bill Gates and he mentioned his optimism. He referenced what it would be like to be a woman in the 50's, an African American during separate but equal, etc. etc. Things are getting better, and I don't believe that tension or conflict are indefinitely a part of the human condition.

    What an awesome question. I'll be here reading the responses for the next little while. Thanks!
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      Mar 31 2014: Hello Ms. Cline,

      You said you're an idealist and based on your picture, a happy idealist. We need more people like you. There are days when I consider myself an idealist too. But on majority of the days, I consider myself a realist who is optimistic and hopeful about the future.That being said, we're living in an unstable world sharply divided by geography, language, religion, economics, politics, and ideology. There has been no period in history without wars or conflicts.

      Right now, there are several hot spots in every continent that any miscalculation on any side could trigger a bigger conflict or even a third world war. History tells us that man has always used the tools he has invented or created, including weapons of mass destruction. That is the reality that scares even the most optimistic among us.

      During my periods of reflection or meditation, when everything seem hopeless, I recite:

      God, grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change,
      The courage to change the things I can,
      And wisdom to know the difference.

      The Serenity Prayer is the common name for an originally untitled prayer by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971). It has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer
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    Mar 30 2014: Human beings are unclear about what their purpose in life is or should be, they fight for things which are of little importance if you think about it, wars are triggered by things like power, money, difference in ideas and opinions and they all lead to damage. But, we don't know what the world is supposed to look like, we only have theories and essays on what could and should be done to avoid direct loss of human lives and property, or to avoid war, if you will. Also, we don't know what effects evolution was supposed to have on human beings, their brain and their behaviour. I don't like wars, i hate people dying in general and it hurts me watching people suffer but things like survival of the fittest, struggle for existence and all these theories in a way necessitates all these wars in the first place. I mean every theories in the world is technically some kind of interaction of forces and though the concept in itself is hideous i personally feel that wars, tensions and conflicts are inevitable.
    What we can do to prevent these though, is to strengthen the emotional side of human beings, probably make the sacrificial centre (i don't know if this exists, lets say some kind of extreme form of empathy if you will) more active, that will possibly be a way to be more understanding towards others, more receptive of others and it might help to avoid these conflicts. But, i personally believe there is no any permanent way to solve this conundrum, the only possible way is to understand the concept of war better. I mean religion have triggered some disputes, so I don't know, discouraging religion could be a way. But, the struggle between individuals in a species will continue no matter what, it's a part of evolution i guess.
    I'm 25, i have no significant research or studies to prove or even attempt to prove these stuff, this is just something I think and believe. I love these questions and being a part of ted is fun. Cheers !!!
  • Gail G3

    • +1
    Mar 30 2014: Research into the hunter gatherer societies show that they all of something in common. Peace is extremely important to them, as is equality. Nothing is more important than these two things. These people have lived for tens of thousands of years in peace. The only exception to their peace was when neighboring non-hunter-gatherer (land owning) tribes encroached on their territory. Not only did they have no war, but they were universally much happier people (in spite of the risks of living that lifestyle). They all treated one another with utmost respect because i was part of their culture.

    Add land ownership (and the consequent invention of money), and war suddenly appears and grows.
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    Mar 30 2014: We live in a world where we are nothing but slaves to our own feeling and desires. Therefore as long as we are slaves to our desires, fights and wars will not cease. Greed makes us do a lot of senseless things, the solution lies in overcoming and conquering it.
  • Mar 29 2014: As long as we see people live in peace we have to believe the answer is no. We can be kind.
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    Mar 28 2014: How do we translate and understand the intrinsic value of our human condition if we do not relate to the same reference data at source internationally?

    How can we avoid war?

    If all humans have a natural right to a shared awareness of what the ‘human condition’ is as a permanent tangible relationships of all reasonable morality in mortality in motion, then the reason, purpose and function of war is obsolete to the internalized actions of an intelligent species with an external curiosity for potential life elsewhere…we should utilize 3d models of death to illuminate the journey of our (all) ancestors to each and every one of us through internationally approved education and 3d observable models of natural unity in the organizational structure of collective democratic channels of growth and development philosophy we can all transparently relate too, if responsibility as purpose in the meaning of fairness…We all have a right to exist in each existential layer and fragment of reality we share as one transient whole? Why do we not think as one head in time and space…how do we organize collective thoughts and reason to represent the universality of growth ethics to the significance of all mass population realities?
    • Mar 28 2014: Is it because we explore and are too busy exploring?
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        Apr 18 2014: The millet hairy in dust real complex is an arms and legs race to nowhere anyone in their right mind would want to go!

        Technological supremacy was once the bow and arrow, now the frontier is the drone wars, is all supremacy a form of weakness, or does it depend on whose side you think your on?

        The longest tradition of slavery to survive in the modern age is war, enslaved to the notion of nationhood and the division within division through boundaries and words...if you don't need so many people in the modern technological war, who owns war in the future, the masses who funded it through the public traditions or the few who can afford it.

        What is the purpose and function of war to an intelligent species in the universal environment of all known and unknown intelligence, do alternate realities of intellectual development exist elsewhere in the universe, a warren of unknown realities we know so many things about, yet, its always that which we no least of that presents the greatest threat...are we complacent about the unknown and ignorant to the significance of all interrelatedness?
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    Mar 27 2014: the only thing make stop wars must everyone on this earth think about other people not thinking about himself.
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      Mar 27 2014: How will we accomplish that "everyone on this earth think about other people not thinking about himself," Mr. Saad? Please elaborate or elucidate.
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        Mar 28 2014: Hello Rodrigo. That possible when our earth leading by one LOW, THE PEACE LOW.