Coming to terms with being human.


Vengeance Inside Us

I've been reading Jared Diamond's article, Vengeance is Ours. It is an illuminating piece, not only about the politics of revenge in a non-state society, but also about the individual response to vengeance.
When I asked Daniel how he felt about the battle in which Isum became paralyzed, his reaction was unapologetically positive: a mixture of exhilaration and pleasure in expressing aggression. He used phrases such as “It was very nice,” and his gestures projected euphoria and a huge sense of relief. “I felt that it was a matter of ‘kill or else die by suicide.’ I was prepared to die myself in that fight. I knew that, if I did die then, I would be considered a hero and would be remembered. If I had personally seen the arrow go into Isum, I would have felt emotional relief then. Unfortunately, I wasn’t actually there to see it, but, when I heard that Isum had been paralyzed, I thought, I have everything, I feel as if I am developing wings, I feel as if I am about to fly off, and I am very happy. After that battle, just as after each battle in which we succeeded in killing an Ombal, we danced and celebrated and slaughtered pigs. When you fight with thinking and finally succeed, you feel good and relieved. The revenge relieves you; now it can be your turn to help someone else get his own revenge.
I often tell people that I am a philosophical urbanist. I need a better term for this, but in short, I honestly believe that when human societies organize at the city level, human life becomes better. The very fact of advanced organization creates the opportunity for positive change. I believe this has to do with the increased communication of ideas. I am not claiming that urban individuals are a better breed of human. I'm not talking about individual change at all. I'm saying that the social environment of the individual will cause that person to act more pro-socially (at the species level) than if he had been raised in a less connected environment. Why bring this up? The article got me thinking.

I absolutely empathize with the feelings mentioned in Diamond's article. In a similar environment, I believe I would act in much the same way. It is the outlets afforded me by society that allow me to react in less destructive ways. Well, enough of that. I think the article is interesting.


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