The governing instinct in animals is self preservation. But should it clash with self-preserving instinct of others? Until or unless there is an urgency to dominate fellow beings and stake a claim to the lion's share of anything and everything, there is no chance of a conflict. It is a lie that men were created equal. This is why George Orwell in his Animal Farm allegorically stated that all men are equal but some are more equal than others. Also, who does not know that lording over others is an inborn instinct?
William Golding's metaphorical novel Lord of the Flies depicts this trait of gradual corruption of soul that starts with bullying the weak and the awkward and ends in vicious cruelty. When teenagers become corrupt with authoritarianism mentality, the stark realities of a competitive world turns apparently suave and sophisticated people into monsters. Even innocent and peace-loving people swayed by rabble-rousers can commit gravest crimes against humanity. Sometimes it is on the pretexts of ultra-nationalism, radicalism or religious zealotry that such people end up causing the gravest harm to human civilisation, a particular race or communities.
But can they enjoy the fruits of their exploits? Even if they succeed for a short period, they ultimately go down the history as the most despicable brutes the world has known. Simple and common people are not violent by nature. As part of evolution they have grown gregarious and learnt to live collectively in the interest of better protection, enhanced capability and care. Advanced civilisation has only taken such mutual cooperation and use of collective intellect and talents to a higher plane for the communities' well-being. But unless a community or a people accepts other peoples' right to live the way it does, society, a large swathe or even the entire planet can turn into a veritable hell.
The saga of invasions has continued for the better part of the written history. Mighty rulers or invaders have laid waste of localities, townships, places of prayer, palaces of rival kings or emperors without any hostilities whatsoever. Most of the feared and blood-thirsty invaders came from central Asia. Alexander the Great who nurtured the ambition of conquering the world emerged from Macedonia and Timur, a Mongol and a brutal conqueror had his Turkish blood legacy. There is hardly any similarity between the great warrior who lived more than 300 years before Christ and the savage conquerors of the Middle age.
Subsequently, the voyages embarked on for exploration of the other side of the world following the scientific knowledge that the planet was round soon transformed the rivalry of world powers. It turned out to be a stiff competition for colonisation and exploitation of resources from the newly discovered lands. The industrial revolution in the 18th century provided Britain with the muscle required for seizing control of the most resourceful and fertile lands in Asia and the new world called America. Its rivals Spain, France, Holland and Portugal fell back in the race although France led in its control of the African continent.
Germany lagged behind and by the time it achieved scientific and technological capabilities, it became envious of the other powers' exploits. With flexing of its muscle, the two World Wars became inevitable. Violence, hostility and establishment of firepower gained currency. Even the Crusade of the 11th 12th and 13th centuries did not sow the seeds of hatred and rivalry of this order.
Clearly, human civilisation is replete with blood-letting and annihilation of rivals and even innocent people. Even at a time world leaders agreed to maintain the status quo, following the devastations of the two World Wars, preparation for confronting 'enemies' has gone on under the shadow of a 'Cold War'. Today the Cold War has gone but the threat of a worldwide armed conflict looms large with both the USA and China glowering at each other and spending trillions of dollars on armaments.
This is not an ideal world to teach people peaceful coexistence. Economic disparities have only pushed religious fanatics and fundamentalists to cause socio-political turmoil. It is now exploding in various forms from Rwanda to Gaza, from Sudan to Afghanistan, from Armenia to America, from South Asia to Europe and within borders of East Asia. Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence does no longer find many a receiving heart. But human civilization cannot sustain without cultivating the Mahatma's ideals.
People even fail to appreciate what Tarashankar Bandopadhya in his novel Kabi (Poet) so agonizingly put, 'Hai, jibon eto chhoto kene?' (Alas! Why is life so short?). What do people want to achieve by their act of violence and cruelties? The material gains will not accompany them to the world after. It is indeed an injustice to one's own life if it has no worthwhile use for others. Incidents of communal hatred or violence have behind them the ulterior motive of undue political or material gains. Those who orchestrate such violence from behind demean their own religion. They are the enemy of the people and should be punished in the interest of humanity.