J. 2.               IDEOLOGICAL VIOLENCE

Except when reason is overpowered by anger, most human individual and group behavior is dominated by some of the ideas in peoples heads, many of which are without adequate foundation. For example, the idea that any stranger or person of a different ethnic group is to be feared because likely dangerous is usually without adequate foundation.

Everyone’s set of ideas and beliefs , or what is called their ideology, is somewhat unique, but every group, nation or culture shares some common ideological elements. Each individual and each group holds different elements in its ideologies with various degrees of commitment and emotional fervor. All get very emotional about some of our ideas and beliefs. Ideological differences between individuals or between groups can easily lead to conflict, and this can lead to violence between them unless it occurs within an institutional framework that discourages or precludes the violence and provides alternative ways to deal with the conflicts.

The main obstacles to seeking mutual human benefits between individuals and between groups are ideological mistakes considered to be realistic, and the main basis for mutual benefits lies in the ideological realism that recognizes what improves all human relationships.

More wars are fought over highly emotional ideological issues than over real conflicts of interest. The religious wars in history have been ideological wars. More recently, the communism vs capitalism contest was over ideologies and pitted two nuclear powers against each other. If war between them had released all their combined nuclear power against each other, neither ideology and neither nation would have survived, and the human race might have perished in a futile and senseless ideological war. Whether any lesson was learned from the world’s escape from that fate remains to be seen, as some people seem to believe mistakenly that superior economic and military power of capitalism was the critical factor that ended the cold war.

The human race seems almost always to have been more or less violent at times. That does not prove that it must always be so. Could it ever change or will it always be so?

Should anyone ever bet on peace instead of continued violence? Yes, because we are smart enough to realize in the end that violence tends to perpetuate itself and always causes unnecessary suffering instead of promoting potential mutual benefits. Yes because we are smart enough to realize eventually that the nature of reality is such that human empathy, friendship, love and cooperation enrich life for everyone. To promote everyone’s well-being, avoiding violence wins hands down.