Why do so many boys want to fight?

We need to look at history. Please bear with me, you will need to follow the story.
If you have ever watched the famous film “2001 A Space Odyssey” you will know that near the start (15 minutes) a caveman is seen looking at a long animal skeleton bone on the ground. He picks it up and seems to ponder for a few seconds before bringing it down with a crash onto the ground smashing other small bones into tiny pieces. This moment represents the very first instant of realisation and learning of the human species. It tries to show our first spark of intelligence, which sadly happens to produce a weapon. We could perhaps consider that it produces the first bully who has gained an advantage over others. In school playgrounds this advantage is usually physical size.

We now know cavemen lived in families or tribes (let’s call them tribes) and, as there was plenty of water, their existence depended upon eating. The man (not the woman) would have to go out and hunt each day to bring back the food. If he failed everybody died. It was as simple as that.
These days you may ask, “Why didn’t the women hunt?” The answer is simply that nature dictated we evolved that way. That’s just the way it was. Each of us had our own skill sets and, at that critical stage of our development, survival depended on us each doing the things that evolution deemed to be our strengths. In fact, if we think about it, we can see the female mind had far more to “do” (and therefore excel at) if they were to survive and in fact did very well out of evolution. (See Short Stories, “Boys v Girls”).

So each morning the men will go out in groups to hunt. They would come home with (or without) food and stare at the stars or into the fire. Their only other job was to fight for survival when necessary, which would usually be in times of food shortages when they were either attacking another tribe or being attacked. The winner would take all. It was brutal.

Let’s consider some tribes of cavemen living in one area.
As we have seen, occasionally they will fight, tearing each from limb to limb and probably biting each other’s throats.

Now let’s go back to that first moment of intelligence (above) when by picking up an animal leg bone one caveman discovered a weapon.
Suddenly, the next time his tribe is attacked he will walk about bashing the enemy over the head and knocking them out or killing them. He will only have to hurt/kill one or two to make the rest run away. However, when those survivors get back to their camp they will take with them a memory of something new, something different. Over the next few days they are going to learn and find bones or sticks as weapons. So now we have two tribes with basic weapons who are back on a level playing field.
Until, that is, somewhere along the way, one caveman will notice that a sharp, pointed bone or stick goes through the skin rather easily. Suddenly one tribe has another advantage. The next time they are attacked this individual will simply stab the enemy who will suffer a terrible defeat. However, once again, this advantage will only last for a short time, as the other tribe will quickly learn to find sharp bones.

Now we have two tribes, both with pointed weapons.

In the next step perhaps one of the cavemen will have an inspired moment and jam a rock into a split stick. This will make a powerful weapon that will kill with every blow providing a distinct advantage until (of course) the enemy catches up.
The next step would probably be using sharp flint-like stones in the split stick, so that hitting and stabbing were not necessary. A simple slashing movement would do (with what is basically an axe). As ever, the “enemy” will soon learn and catch up.
This pattern of cavemen racing to develop ever better weapons and fighting skills to feed their tribes or families is clear and along the way, very gradually, tribes will see the sense in joining forces, as greater numbers equals more power.

If we now jump ahead many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years to the 14th century we will be able to see exactly the same pattern of behaviour with the “tribes” still growing. One tribe at that time was called “France” and another one was called “England”. They lived next door to each other so (as usual) were fighting, when (by chance) the English leader, King Edward III, discovered the Welsh longbow. This amazing weapon hugely outclassed (in every way) the crossbow which both normally used. Suddenly, with a smaller army, England was able to go to France and inflict losses never before seen on a battlefield and all before the enemy got close enough to use their weapons. Once again, one side had gained an advantage and was able to  cause death on a stunning scale. We can say the pattern of “evolution” in killing was continuing.
Note: Look up “The Battle of Agincourt” or “Crecy” for more details about this. 

Today, 600 years later, the story is very nearly (but not quite) the same.

When I was a boy, the two biggest tribes in the world were were called Russia and America. As everyone had learnt to travel long distances, they didn’t have to be neighbours to fight. At that time they were racing against each other to build ever bigger and better nuclear bombs than each other as well as more of them. In fact, at one point (Look up: The Cuban Missile Crisis) as a young lad, I used to look up at every plane in the sky and wonder if that was the one that would start a nuclear war and drop a bomb on me.  Not long after that The Russians built the biggest nuclear bomb ever seen. It was called “The Tsar” and could kill everybody within 200 km. It terrified both sides so much as they realised using such awful power meant there would be no winners. Suddenly the race for “better” bombs stopped. About 30 years later one tribe (Russia) took a brave step and said it would destroy some of its own bombs. Suddenly the whole world watched in amazement as both tribes (America and Russia) raced to prove that each was destroying more nuclear weapons than the other.

So, just perhaps, intelligence is finally starting to dominate human evolution. Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Nowadays, Russia and America (plus a whole host of friendly countries) try to stop other nations (tribes) fighting major battles. There are still arguments over territory but usually both sides try to avoid violence and other countries try to sort it out, not always successfully.

The point of all this.

The leaders of the “tribes” or countries tended to be men and evolution has built into males the need to fight. It’s stupid and goes back through all of evolution. It’s instinct. Only in very recent times (the last two hundred years or so) has the intelligence of human beings started to become strong enough to make us realise we do not have to fight in order to stay alive. In fact it is only those individuals who have been left behind (within evolutionary terms) that still feel the need to hurt each other. We could perhaps say bullies are “cavemen” that haven’t moved on.
To emphasise the point, just note that, until The Industrial Revolution (about 1750 onwards) took place, this “fight to survive” instinct was still the main unwritten rule of society. Once that came along, it was possible for a man to know that by working very hard in a factory he could guarantee keeping his family alive. It was  an amazingly hard life but it took away the “Fight, Win or Die” factor that was so ingrained into evolutionary development.
However, the problem then (for men) became, “What do we do with all these extra competitive feelings we have?” The answer was obvious and it is no mistake that The Industrial Revolution coincided with the emergence of many team sports for the working man. In this way the evolutionary innate aggressiveness of the male, that allowed him to survive, could then be channelled into supporting a tribe that now just happened to be called a “team”. As the fighting instinct still lingers, this is the reason why all schools need sports teams.

Unfortunately, we are now faced with the task of trying to overcome thousands of centuries of evolution in an extremely worthwhile battle to make intelligence not fighting the most important factor in our lives. A very difficult but not impossible task. It will be a slow but steady development for men in particular. History proves that meaningful change comes gradually so therefore this massively important progress must move one step at a time in understanding the issues.