War, Violence, & Human Suffering: Why the World Urgently Needs More Wisdom

Oct 13, 2023

Yesterday, Hamas called for a Global Day of Jihad today (October 13th). They've called for a day of violence, anger, protest, and potentially death. My sister texted me last night fearful to send her children to school.

Despite being thousands of miles away from the violence and conflict occurring in Israel and Palestine, Hamas's call for jihad is meant to and can create fear in people all over the world.

If you've watched the news lately and followed the struggle between Israel and Palestine, then you've seen the devastating attacks, violence, hostages, and deaths occurring in what is yet again another war.

I won’t speak to who’s right or who’s wrong, to whose anger is justified or unjustified, or to whose actions are appropriate or inappropriate.

Instead, I want to speak to bringing change to a world filled such pain.

I want to call upon our humanity, our human ability to feel and to connect with the neurons of our heart to feel empathy and compassion for others.

We live in a world filled with possibilities.

We have access to an abundance of resources.

We've experienced tremendous advances in technology.

We have a phenomenal understanding of science and the nature of the universe.

And yet, despite everything we’ve accomplished as human beings we still, time and time again, find ourselves regressing to war and violence in response to conflict.

Ironically, these same patterns that can be observed in the interactions and studies of mice.

The "Mouse Utopia" experiments, conducted by ethologist John B. Calhoun in the 1960s and 1970s, aimed to study the effects of population growth in rodents. Mice were placed in a controlled environment, which Calhoun referred to as a "behavioral sink," where they were provided with unlimited resources such as food, water, and nesting materials, effectively creating a mouse "Eden." Despite the abundance, the population experienced a boom followed by severe social and behavioral disruptions, leading to population decline and, eventually, extinction within approximately two years. The findings from these studies raised questions about the psychological and social implications of overcrowding and the potential parallels to human societies.

Here are a few of the behaviors the mice began exhibiting that ultimately led to their demise:

  • Social Breakdown: They formed tight-knit groups and the interactions between groups became aggressive
  • Strain on Maternal Behavior: Some female mice displayed negletful behavior towards their offspring leading to occassionaly even injuring or kiling them.
  • The Beautiful Ones: Some male mice began to withdraw from society altogether, avoiding all social roles and responsibilities. They spent their time grooming themselves and remained isolated from the rest.
  • Decreased Reproductive Behaviors: Overtime, as the effects of overcrowding took place, the birhtrate started to drop. Mice were either not mating, or if they did mate, they were not caring for their offspring.
  • Increase in Homosexual Behavior: As competition for mates became fierce and mores tressive, an increase in homosexual behaviors was noted.
  • Aggression: As the population density increased, so did the levels of aggression. Males would frequently engage in fights for no clear reason with each other, females, and younger mice.
  • Cannibalism: In some instances, the mice resorted to cannibalism even when food was plentiful.

This study was replicated over 25 times all with the same results.

Many have speculated about the implications of this study as applied to human beings. While I don't think you can draw any definitive conclusions from this study as applied to humans, I do recognize the parallels.

Are we potentially on the same path as the mice in the experiment?

I personally would like to think that we get the opportunity to choose to be better, and to do better. As human beings we have the capacity and capabilities to choose a better outcome.

Our evolution has allowed us to evolve the neurological capabilities to navigate the world in a way that produces better results not worse.

When we decide what actions to take in our lives and in the world, we must choose first to access our full body intelligence and wisdom. We can choose to make wiser decisions by using the lens of creativity, courage, and compassion.

By accessing the wisdom of our multiple intelligences and neural networks found in our brains (Creativity), hearts (compassion), and guts (courage) we can make decisions that create a better world.

We must utilize the full intelligence of our creative minds, of our compassionate hearts, and of our courageous guts to access our inner wisdom.

Most importantly, we must recognize that wise decisions begin and end with compassion. We must use our hearts and the 40,000 (or more) neurons that live within them to help us connect, to feel, and to decide what is truly important not just for ourselves but for everyone who lives on this planet.

When we view our decisions through the lens of compassion, for self and others, our decisions are more ecological and valuable to the world.

We all see the pain, the anger, the suffering, the frustration, the challenges in the world that are leading to devastating consequences.

To more violence, stress, burnout, depression, loneliness, suicide, and wars.

So long as we are having these negative experiences, we are clearly not accessing wisdom in our decision-making. We are not actively practice "wisdoming" as part of our lives.

We’ve been gifted the capability in our human bodies to access wisdom that allows us to make better decisions and create a better world.

Why aren't we using more of our Wisdom?

I believe the answer is simple many:

  • are not aware of their own internal capacity for such wisdom.
  • don't know how to access and align their intelligences for wisdom to emerge.
  • haven't developed their capabilities to access such wisdom consistently.

I can’t reach those who are making decisions right now about whether others will live or die. What I can do is call upon and equip as many people as possible with the tools and techniques that will result in better "wisdoming" in this world.

Wisdom is not just something we know it's something that we have to actively do. It’s an activity that we consciously choose to practice.

Rather than decide based only on:

  • the head brain's analysis of the situation
  • the gut brain’s desire to take action or react from fear for self-preservation
  • the heart brain's feelings, its pain or anger or loneliness

We must instead choose to align and integrate all three intelligences. We all must learn how to and use all three intelligences to make wiser decisions for ourselves and the world.

Together we must practice active wisdoming in our lives because the world is depending on us.

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