In the world of gravel biking, a world I did not know existed until yesterday, a middle-aged woman who is dating one gravel rider has been arrested for murdering a young woman who is also involved in the same world and was in Texas for a race earlier this month before being gunned down. Details are, at this point, admittedly a bit thin on the ground, which makes it unclear how it is that a world so obscure that most people have never heard of it was able to generate enough hostility to lead to a murder. What is clear, though, is that human beings as a whole have a long history of violence and that this violence is often turned against others.
There are people who tend to believe that the remote past was an age of peace that was then spoiled by civilization, but if we look back in remote history, we can see that the tendency for violence goes back a very long time. Two examples should suffice. In a cave in Iraq, there was a skeleton seen as Neanderthal that became the oldest yet known cold case when it was found that he died as the result of what appears to be a throwing spear wound that could have come (from what we know at least) only from a group of sapiens in the area who had apparently adopted spear throwers at that particular time. Similarly, the last known skeletal remains of a being known as homo erectus on the island of Java appear in the same site with evidence of cannibalism and head-hunting. Ancient mankind was no more irenic than contemporary mankind.
We have typically thought that contemporary mankind is inclined more to peace than was the case in the past, but it does not take a long time to demonstrate that while we may not always be engaged in violence against other, that we nevertheless retain the capacity to be violent under certain circumstances, and that when those circumstances are met, the violence that was absent for some time becomes more obvious. Generally speaking, we see violence tends to be focused on others who should, in more sane and reasonable times, be seen as fellow insiders. If we are seeking power and dominance, any one who rivals us, rather than being seen as a peer, will be seen as a deadly enemy to be crushed, and this hostility will tend to ramp up the reply that the others have to us, even if we may not admit to ourselves who instigated the hostility.
I have long been a witness and even a participant in such acts of hostility, and it has long struck me that there is a ready tendency in the part of many people, including myself, to see the presence of the other as threatening, and the willingness to take serious and hostile steps to purge spaces of such people. This tendency appears to be a very old one, going far back into ancient history, and it is unclear how it is that such a thing would be overcome and whether it would be a good thing, in fact, to overcome this tendency. The capacity for reasoning and communication that we undoubtedly have comes with it the reality that this reasoning and communication may be used for evil purposes. Any power that can be possessed by beings who are, as we are, a mixture of good and evil, will be used both for good and for evil. Any effort to keep beings who are inclined both to good and evil on the straight and narrow then requires regulation and policing, whether self-control or external placed, and this will require some sort of coercion to be undertaken against evildoers. One wonders how early this was recognized within our history.