The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The best way to foster peace

Over the last several years, I have heard many a philosophical debate on whether the world will ever become a better place. Specifically, debates on if we, as a species, actually have the capacity to rise above the troubles that plague us: crime, poverty, homelessness, bigotry, war, corruption, etc. In other words, whether or not we can rid the world-along with ourselves-of evil, as ambiguous as such a word is.

It seems as though such problems have plagued humanity since the invention of civilization oh-so-many millennia ago. First, in order to get to the top, the people of one culture or another were usually obligated to get there by wiping out the surrounding cultures with superior firepower or military tactics. Second, that inevitably began a race to make war with all the equally developed civilizations just across the river/desert/Mediterranean who just finished eliminating their own local competition. And third, once a civilization had “won” and there was absolutely no one else to kill-except for the obnoxious little upstarts in subjugated lands who had to be made examples of-the civilization languished in its own splendor before finally being torn apart from the inside by rich nobles who each wanted just a little more power for themselves.

Keep in mind that throughout this whole process, the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the atrocities that the military forces unleashed on “the enemy” became more and more horrendous. We’ve seen it happen before, and you’d better believe it’s happening now (those who saw the play “Betrayed” on campus last week know what I’m talking about).

History may seem hopeless; how do we get past our own dark impulses that led us on this downward spiral? The Holocaust, the horrors of Uganda and Rwanda, Abu Ghraib; how can we actually prevent these travesties from occurring again? At the risk of sounding pretentious and hubristic, I believe I have discovered the answer.

The secret to moral behavior is the opposite of what you might think. You, as an individual, must acknowledge the dark side of your own mind/soul. You have to accept that there is an evil part of your being that makes you think evil thoughts and tempts you to do evil things. Then, once you’ve done that, you must find some way to channel it in a way that is harmless to others.

It is the completely wrong thing to suppress your darkest desires and just pretend they’re not there. If you do that, then you’ve just doomed yourself to become the very thing you seek to avoid, for those dark and evil thoughts will find a way to manifest themselves in ways that seem perfectly fair- and dare I say righteous-to your mind’s eye precisely because you didn’t keep track of them.

No, it’s far better to know what’s going on in your subconscious and to find a place for it all.

The fact is, darkness is in our blood. We evolved as a species based on a hierarchical social structure, each one of us desiring to rise to the top of the metaphorical ladder. We are psychologically hard-wired to create an “us” and “them” dichotomy whether it actually exists or not. We are possessed of a savage heart of darkness that helped us survive in the wilderness but now goads us to commit atrocities upon ourselves.

We cannot simply shed that innate, physiologically based part of ourselves. It is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. You have to get it out of you somehow in a way that won’t harm others; whether its with a punching bag, a firing range, a hunting permit, or a chessboard. Only then can we make a better world.

Trey Treviño is a sophomore CTV major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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