Author: Haile Lagi
Note: this posts covers some heavy topics, but I think you can handle it 🙂
It’s sometime around 6.00 pm, my dad just bought a new phone, my brother & I somehow simultaneously came to an epiphany of sorts, there’s an “unclaimed item” present in the home (it’s the free accessories that comes with every phone and our parents never use), see we ruined both of our earbuds and we both knew one of us was getting it, before you know it my brother shouts “dibs” but there is no way I’m giving up that easy, I haven’t listened to music in weeks…
I rush to the package and we start wrestling for it, he pins me, I counter, I pin, he counters and we both go on for a while, destroying the room before we decide without speaking this is getting us no where, we sit down and start to verbally argue – this is the bit that gets interesting – we were arguing for hours over the concept of what “dibs” means and the consequences that followed. For those unaware of what this popular and rather childish phrase means:
The importance of this episode presents itself in a disguised manner. As I reflected on what exactly we were arguing about, it dawned on me the array of fundamental concepts that were involved: Ideas of ownership, finite resources, supply and demand, economic systems, ethics and the sources of conflict.
Our argument further explored concepts of logic, validity of statements, the fallibility of memory, belief and justification. This seemingly trivial discussion of who gets what really struck a chord with me when I contemplated the cause of our wrestling match. One thing we talked about made a lot of sense, the purpose of the wrestling match was to decide whose will triumphed over the other. Seemingly obvious, but again extremely important.
Then I started to think that desire whatever it maybe and more importantly the ability to realize that desire is a major cause of inequality. Not necessarily as the direct cause but rather as a consequence of that inequality. Inequality creates strife, either by trying to right this wrong or trying to accept it, both create violence. Yet, I’m only suggesting a correlation not necessarily confining violence to inequality. To understand what causes all conflicts is tricky but I can’t help myself from asking why do war, violence and struggle exist?
It’s not the first time this question has been asked, for millennia this has haunted societies thinkers. Personally, I’ve experienced these things all around me growing up. From trivial disagreements and fights amongst my peers, to riots, bombings, people being burnt and killed, gunfire seemingly unending. I’ve seen the destruction and aftermath of violence in my home town, that was at one point declared in a “state of emergency” the feeling of not being in control of what was happening around me, being helpless, running away from my home for fear of being killed, seeing deadbodies and not fully realizing how fragile my existence was.
The reasons are many why these things happened, socioeconomic class divisions, religious intolerance, tribalism, bigotry, political social engineering, twisted ideologies, and many other reasons are causes. I believe these are symptoms of strife itself, the desire for equality, power, honor, fear, whatever reasons that are justified in a person’s mind, whatever cause that leads to action. I’m not interested in this cause or that cause and their reasons or justifications for “good” or “evil”. I’m looking for something abstract, the cause of the causes themselves.
Suppose an apparent paradox I heard from a fictional character:
To answer yes or no would be irrelevant, evil would remain. I bring up this paradox to illustrate what I understand to be the nature of conflict, it’s more contradiction than paradox. Perceived necessity causes most conflict, and this necessity is the irrationality that is the world (this is an existentialist phrase) and to eliminate conflict would be to eliminate it’s causation.
We do not desire conflict… Not really. It’s a means, a way to achieve whatever goal. And this goal (or desire or will) may be is to eliminate another conflict and in doing so conflict is needed. This is why conflict seems to constantly recreate itself through desire even if the desire is to destroy it.
Having a will is not necessarily a bad thing, not only can we not simply stop wanting things, we should want things, it’s the fundamental drive to creating the greatest works of art, achieve amazing feats in diverse disciplines, it’s us, that wish to cure cancer, that cute girl you like, all of humanity is contained in its will. Our desire is all we really have. But what I am saying is the things we desire as result of necessity can create violence, it’s not that we intentionally create it but that it’s created as a result of human nature. So you might think, it’s all the world’s fault eh?
Well not exactly, when I say the “world” or the “irrationality of the world” I’m not necessarily talking about a specific thing, it’s more of an interplay of a complex system that brings about specific outcomes. I guess that’s the best definition I have and it’s in understanding this mad complex irrational system that I hope to uncover how to, at least theoretically end violence and conflict. But first comes understanding, to understand the problem might very well be the greatest challenge.
This is my take, I see the world around me, the conflict and chaos that is created and I wish to change it for better or worse. If you disagree or agree and can help me understand this topic even better, or if you just have a comment, I’d love to hear from you, sharing Ideas after all is why I write, to hear all that can be said, to inspire conversation, and eventually change.
Haile is a Nigerian Student, Blogger & Contributing Writer at The Conversation Room.
You can visit his excellent blog here: