About our third warning from Stephen Hawking

So far the man’s warned us about AI (something I’m still not convinced is possible, regardless of theory), alien contact, and now our own aggression.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that it’s one of our greatest challenges. And we ARE getting better. Slowly. As I put it… some people believe we’re sliding into barbarism. Except we never left barbarism. We were born in that hand-basket and some people believe we belong there no matter how hard others work to get us out.

Aggression is natural. Bemoaning it is as useful as bemoaning the fact that gravity sometimes sucks. We would never have evolved into the beings we did if not for our ability to match the hunger and aggression of the other predators with which we competed, or the desperation and aggression of those creatures we hunted. And then, when we saw each other as challengers and trespassers, those that survived were likely the most aggressive.

Personally I’d say our disdain for our natural environment is at least as big a danger as aggression, since it, unlike our propensity for violence, seems to be INcreasing.j

I think the key to dealing with our aggression is learning how to control it, not trying to suppress it. My preferred method was the martial arts–something that’s now denied me. Of course, I’m not really a physical danger to anyone these days, so the point is moot. I went from practicing kung-fu to practicing mind-fu. It’s all I have left.

Did you know that the Marine corps has long advocated taking outside martial arts classes? They’ve found it reduces brawling.

Ironic that one of the ways we can learn to control aggression is to learn controlled forms of violence. But it works. Partly because the kind of skills taught to martial artists come with the responsibility to use them properly. It’s ingrained in most. That’s why you don’t hear that many stories about martial artists going off and beating someone to death–something that’s well within their power.

More people are killed by guns in the hands of toddlers than martial artists going off. And these are people who are steeped in violence.

Something to consider, at least.