Insight: The world of aggression


The three widely spread religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam collectively known as the Religion of Abraham were founded in the Middle East or what Indians and Chinese refer to as Western Asia. One of the most uttered mantras of these religions is peace, shalom or salaam. Yet throughout their existence, peace and war have alternated neither of them being capable of annihilating the other.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Andrew Carnegie the American steel magnate said to kill men will be considered as disgusting as we in this day consider disgusting to eat one.

He was too optimistic. Fourteen years later, the greatest war the world has ever seen broke out. Thirty nine years later, the even greater war erupted. In 1945, the tired belligerents met in America and founded the United Nations Organisation whose aim was to guarantee peace worldwide. To what extent have their guarantee been realised?


European nations which were at the centre of the two world wars coexist as members of the European Union. But minor wars and aggression shed blood in some cities of Asia, Europe and Africa. When is man’s inhumanity to man going to cease?

Shame enough to say so, as regard humanity or morality, mankind has not yet left the Stone Age: Civilised religious people are as prone to killing their fellow human beings as uncivilised idol worshipping people, did in the past. Indeed as regards co-existence, animals behave better than human beings. We do not come across herds of cattle, elephants or lions fighting one another in something resembling a war.

Wars start with aggression, an act or practice of attacking without provocation. In some African countries like Northern Nigeria, Kenya and Somalia, people who have provoked no-one are killed by suicide bombers. These suicide bombers are simply aggressive. Not all people who are aggressive do anyone any physical harm. Some sales persons are said to be aggressive because they are too persuasive, energetic and go getting.


Of the harmful type of aggression, social psychologists make two additional distinctions. They talk of hostile aggression whose goal is to injure and of instrumental aggression which aims to hurt but only as a means to some other end. Many wars, for example have been undertaken not out of cruel desire to harm an enemy but simply to acquire territory. Those natives who submit weekly are colonised peacefully.

Social psychologists have analysed three primary ideas about root causes of aggressions. First there is the idea that aggression is natural tendency or drive like eating or drinking, requiring no other cause for its existence. Secondly is the idea that aggression is a natural response to frustrating experience. Thirdly, aggression is said to be acquired through learning either observing other people indulging in it or having experienced it and profited from it you develop the urge to continue the practice.

Philosophers have also for centuries discussed whether human nature is fundamentally benign, contented like that of the legendary noble savage. The French-Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was of the view that humans are naturally good but that they are made evil by society. Thomas Hobbes the 17th century English philosopher saw humans as naturally evil who deserve to be under society’s restrictions and control otherwise they engage in brutality making life nasty and short.

If with your foot you tread on the back of snake, it will invariably turn round and bite you. Similarly if you do something that hurts someone he mostly likely will hit back. People have aspirations. If you do something that prevents someone from attaining his aspiration, you create frustrations in him. Because of these frustrations he might attack you. This aggression is caused by frustration.

In the world of today, we should not be naïve to assume that no terrorist would attack us long as we do provoke him. Recently Al Shabab killed a hundred Kenyan soldiers operating within Somalia. Perhaps they are right. Those people say the Kenyans provoked the Al Shabab by trying to prevent them from being the rulers of Somalia. But when we look back we see that the terrorist provoked the Kenyans when attacking Americans and Israel embassies in Kenya they killed hundreds of Kenyans.

In Nigeria the Boko Haram started by killing Christians just because they were not Muslims. In the six years that it has been in existence, it has killed more Muslims than Christians. In Kenya whenever Al Shabab has ambushed a bus it has killed those passengers it identifies as Christians and spares the Muslims. In one of the recent ambushes, one of the Muslims challenged the Al Shabab either to spare all or kill all. He was wounded later he died. He is a hero to humanity.

In the days of old, young men were being enrolled into Boy Scout movement, girls to the Girls Guides. The motto of these movements was BP or Be Prepared. In other words be ever ready to try and survive a dangerous situation, natural or man-made.

There was a time whenever some terrorists killed American nationals some anti-American people rejoiced and said you deserve it, why do you try and dominate the world. In recent years terrorists have wreaked havoc on Malians, Russians, the French, Pakistanis, Indians and more. We must not assume that the sufferings being endured in Kenya cannot be experienced here. The world is aflame, frustrated people seem to hate everyone except members of their groups.

The terrorists who massacred the Parisians recently were said to be French nationals not the Francois Vincent’s or Jacques but men with more exotic names who become French through naturalisation and then acted as agents of terrorists gangs in the countries of their origin. There is a lesson for us let us not caught napping by Trojan horses.

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