Many are convinced that the violence eroding our civilization is unavoidable because violence is encoded in our genes. The popular belief that people are ruled by DNA and that selfishness, violence and aggression have been programmed into the human hard drive has been shown to be a myth by the emergence epidemiology. The fact is our environment has everything to do with the expression of our genes.
Chimpanzees and baboons our close primate relatives, generally live in societies in which the strongest and most aggressive primates dominate and compete for food. Bonding generally occurs among males who then gang up on females who are usually much smaller. The society is tightly controlled by the strongest and most aggressive males through bullying the weaker males and beating up on females. These primates work hard foraging for food where vegetation is high in tannins and other toxins. These toxins keep the vegetation from being totally eaten away.
In 1983, Robert Sapolski, a primatologist, was studying a troop of baboons in Kenya. He found high levels of glucocorticolds known as fight-or-flight hormones in the subordinate males. These hormones are released in response to competition and aggression. He was five years into his study when an outbreak of tuberculosis killed half of the troop’s males. Those who died were the most aggressive and dominant males. These males were the most successful in competing for food. With this turn of events, Sapolski dicided to leave that troop to find another troop with a balanced ratio of males and females to study.
Ten years later, Sapolski decided to ‘check in’ on the original troop and was surprised to find that the troop had changed dramatically. They had developed a radically new culture. All of the original surviving males were gone. In the new culture the bigger male baboons no longer bullied the smaller ones. If fights did occur, those involved were the same size. Also male baboons were not likely to attack the females. He also found the levels of glucocorticolds had significantly dropped in the subordinate males. And they showed fewer signs of stress.
So, what happened? What was the cause of this dramatic change to a more peaceful troop? Sapolski theorizes that with all the old males gone, the senior members of the troop were all female. These females then acculturated the remaining younger males, chosing those who were less aggressive and who showed less stressed behavior. It appears a change in environment led to the creation of a higher level of functionality.
Another interesting study involved bonobos usually called pygmy chimpanzees. These bonobos live in a make-love-not-war society. While most chimps live in a male dominated society of bullying and female intimidation, these primates kiss and make up after fighting. In fact, when faced with potential conflict they engage in sexual activity that releases tention and reinforces safety and friendship. They kiss before conflict to prevent it from happiening. Bonobos waste little time foraging for food or fighting for resources since there is an abundance of a high protein herb, haumania liebrechtsiana, also called bonobo power bars.
According to Bruce Lipton, PH. D., in his book, Spontaneous Evolution; “….when resources are abundant, fighting becomes less necessary. And when fighting decreases, resources become more abundant.” He further states; “If peaceful bonobos can live in abundance and balance, and a troop of otherwise violent baboons can find they enjoy peace more than war, what can we sentient humans, who have far more resources at our disposal, accomplish? Are we going to continually assume powerlessness and deny responsibility while blaming dire personal and world conditions on selfish genes? Or are we willing to use our intelligence intelligently? ”
For now, Earlynn’s just sayin’; “Remember, we have the ability to make earth a “heaven” or a “hell”. It’s not in our genes. It’s in our heart.”
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