Conflict is something that most people find unenjoyable. In many cases, we do our absolute best to avoid it at all costs. But at some point in our lives, we will all have to deal with some aspect of conflict, whether it’s against another person, an aspect of society, or even ourselves. Yet no matter how we feel about conflict in our lives, most of these situations do not involve going to war. However, war has done more to shape the history of the world than one might be willing to consider. In tonight’s fifth episode of Origins (NatGeo, 9 PM/8 CT), the topic involves fighting (and killing) other people (it’s a bit gory, so be advised, parents). The episode starts off a little slow, but picks up in the middle, providing a challenging look at our past—and a hope for our future that, sadly, will not come to pass.
Tribal groups grew crops and killed animals for food. But when food was difficult to find, fear took over and the people resorted to taking it from other tribes by any means necessary. Stealing was one option, but eventually people found it more effective to just beat up and kill members of the other group. It seems war is a symptom of our humanity, showcasing our worst attributes. But it has also given rise to civilizations, such as Genghis Khan’s massive Mongolian empire in the 13th century (aided by an important military item known as the stirrup). As a result, people became loyal to beliefs (such as the Crusades) and nationalistic creeds—and yet fighting continued over large and small issues.
More changes came with modern warfare, as World War I proved. As part of the terms of peace, boundaries were created in the Middle East, creating countries that had never seen a specific form of government before. This led to anarchy within those areas and gave rise to something called terrorism, seen in the US in 1993 when the World Trade Center was bombed and eight years later when it was destroyed by two airplanes. One commentator in the episode likened it to David versus Goliath in that ‘David’ is willing to do anything to keep himself alive in the eyes of the general public. Think about it: do we still talk about terrorism today? Are we a bit fearful of what could eventually happen if terrorists go unchecked? If so, ‘David’ has done his job.
Host Jason Silva introduces the concept of cyber warfare at the end of the show, noting that people have the ability of using 0s and 1s to take down physical objects, thus controlling society through their monitors. If the power goes out with no way to turn it on in a city, what would happen? No ATMs, no shopping, no internet (once the batteries on the smartphone are dead), and no ability to perform daily tasks that people take from granted. It wouldn’t be pretty.
Of course, humanity can do lots of good, but we also have the propensity to be quite evil. In the Bible, Cain didn’t like that God rejected his sacrifice but accepted the one his brother Abel gave. His way of resolving the situation involved killing his brother, then having to deal with the consequences of his actions (see Genesis 4:1-16). War is simply an example of humanity not getting along with each other for reasons such as fear, power, money. I was struck that Silva asked, at the end of the episode, “Can we find the will to destroy war?” We’ve tried to give peace numerous times in the past, but eventually, something happens and the killing begins anew (sorry, John Lennon). The Bible says specifically that war isn’t going to go away, as man becomes more corrupt and power-hungry leaders seek to impose their will on the whole world (you know, the whole mark of the beast thing in Revelation 13). But in the end, God’s plan is to bring peace back—not through the doings of humanity, but through Jesus, who’s already battled death and won. Only then will war truly be over.