It is our compunction, not just as human beings, but as fellow human beings, by which I am referring to our status as socially functioning creatures, to attempt to thrive via domination.
A non-social life form has no such compunction; consider a tree: It grows its roots deep into the earth and extracts so few minerals that it barely affects the soil, it spreads its leaves and catches what sunlight it can, which, invariably, ends up being a very tiny amount in the grand scheme of how much light the sun will give until losing all stellar function and it thrives from its own gentle gatherings. Most plants, in fact, use this model to survive and although there is some competition and some cooperation there is a largely even sense of shared wealth among the plant world. Some opt to grow spiky thorns or to bloom fantastic colours to attract, distract or deter other animals but that is not domination, that is only another form of cooperation; one could even call it communication.
A Great White Shark, by similar virtues, does not dominate its environment; it only dominates its food chain that we place it on and it only does this by remaining at the top of the food chain with no particular predators. Its effect on the balance of the sea is tiny, the benefits it gains from such a conservative usage of the sea’s resources are great: The shark grows and lives long in relative harmony with its surroundings.
While a shark eats all it wants and a tree takes all the sunlight it can get, neither is blessed with a tool capable of true damage. They have only what they need to continue surviving and adapting to changes around them.
A truly social being, however, relies on the automatically balancing reflexes of nature to keep its own actions in check. Intelligence, while relative, debatable and ultimately subjective, is a very dangerous tool indeed as it allows the being in possession to question its own nature, or at least to question its own methods for the bettering of its own desires. While nature’s intentions (and executions of said intentions), due to their simplicity, are infallible, intellectual intentions are susceptible to logical missteps, deliberate or accidental confusions and illusions and, worst of all, arrogant beliefs of transcending nature itself despite being as fundamentally natural as anything else.
This means that a human will ignore their instincts when it comes to figuring out how to survive and allow their intellect (or relative lack thereof) and their sociality to influence their actions into a direction contrary to natures’ - an action of which other beings are incapable -.
The way that the shark, the tree and indeed everything else survives is a way of balance; it is not kept in check by each individual but by the inherent constraints placed on each of them and the nature of the environment itself. The way that a pontificating, reasoning and overruling human survives is the way of domination, of attempting to control every degree of every element of the system in which it finds itself. In a closed system, such a construct could work very well; it could find a balance that uses its own selfish wants to provide a beneficial stance for all; it would, in this case, be considered the keeper of the rules of the closed system, or even the rules themselves, perhaps if the system were controllable and closed, such an overriding construct would be considered to be nature itself.
Our system is not a closed one. The world contains more factors than the entire spectrum of human intelligence and existence could ever begin to comprehend, let alone manipulate. This is where domination reaches critical mass: When humans are unable or unwilling to accept this futility and strive to dominate anyway.
The first step was to build up the belief that the system around us was and is controllable. We told ourselves it was and we even gave it a creator and controller; we called it God.
The second step was to seize the power ourselves and liken ourselves to God. We built a system designed solely for such a purpose: To assign nature, understanding and power to man and we called it science.
The third step, in an attempt to collar the power-hungry ravings of the scientists, was called philosophy and it seeked to wrench the feeling of power of knowledge from man but could find no better place to lay it and so left it where it stood.
In doing so, the feeling of controlling even metaphysics was in man’s grasp. Now we have everything that corrupted arrogance breeds; we have people in charge of maintaining nature’s balance as well as every other form of balance or imbalance we deem fit to build or maintain. We are now the creators of our own deception as well as the creators of our own destruction.
Violence, while not the main theme of this opera of self-abuse, is a symptom of the overwhelming arrogance of the human race being felt on a personal level. We each see ourselves as worthy denizens to carry on the legacy of the human race and it is a legacy of domination. Thus, violence becomes justified in all its forms as it is the method we use to force our domination onto all.
This can be felt from the peace-keepers beating dissenters to death with truncheons, built in the name of justice, or in the glorifications bestowed on the homeowner who ruthlessly hunted down and killed the committer of a crime against his property or, in the very worst sense, it can be felt in the aggressive censorship of opinion and action by any person or group of people that can find the power to do so without opposition.
The way of non-violence is not the way of tree-hugging hippies or overly optimistic humanists; it is the only way forward for anything that exists in the spectrum of nature and if we don’t find a way to get down from our pedestal of arrogance to a more level plane, nature will simply find a way to do it for us.