Human evolution is marked by a series of important differentiations, which are both normal and crucial for the development of consciousness. Each stage of evolution includes the preceding stages, and then adds characteristics that go beyond them, that transcend them.

Also, during the evolutionary process, that which is whole at one stage becomes a part of the whole of the next: whole atoms become parts of molecules, whole molecules become parts of cells, and whole cells become parts of organisms.

However, normal and natural hierarchies can degenerate into pathological hierarchies, both in the natural world and in the human world. In these cases, a whole does not want to be a part of something larger than itself. It wants to dominate it.

As far as humans are concerned, this hunger for domination has been a particular feature of our life on Earth. Tribes have competed with each other since times immemorial for the domination of the land they all inhabited and, eventually, there was one tribe which succeeded in overpowering the others, often redesigning frontiers that had been in place for ages.

Still, the damage inflicted on the biosphere and on other humans at those times was relatively harmful, because its means and its technologies were very basic. You cannot really inflict much damage with a bow and arrow, although this lack of means does not necessarily imply that you are a pacifist.

In time, new weapons were designed and advanced technologies were put at the service of new tribalisms. Tribalisms that combined nationalism, racism, intolerance, and hatred in manifold ways. And the world became a witness to genocides, holocausts, massive bombings, and ethnic cleansings, all of them the result of using the tools of an advanced technology-—steel and coal, combustion engines and gas chambers, machine guns and atomic bombs—for the lowest of the lowest motives.

It is not our intellectual ability or technological progress that makes our countries developed. It is the recognition that our lack of consciousness and of emotional control can drive us to perform countless and unimaginable acts of destruction.

Ultimately, what makes a person, a community or a country admirable and strong is their capacity for empathy, dialogue, and respect, not their capacity for inflicting harm on others. Bullies, be they individuals or states, are always, deep down, cowards.

K. W.

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