I wanted to write a little bit about myself today, and about the nature of conflict. No matter the issue, its importance or relevance, or even the context, I just seem to have a contentious nature. Perhaps it is a result of my being so devoted to Ares. Maybe the fact that I’m a Scorpio, a sign I’ve often seen associated with Ares, at least in passing. Maybe I’m just a jerk; I can’t be certain.
I had an interesting discussion/heated debate with my religion teacher recently about the nature of man. I contended that the nature of man was conflict, whereas she felt the nature of man is harmonious. We then watched part of the film ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’, which follows the actions of a tribe Central African bushmen in the Kalahari desert. The band of 15 or so bushmen gets along astronomically well, have no concept of ownership, and enjoy unlimited resources. The nature of their existence seems to validate my professor’s hypothesis. Then came the wrench – a singular, non-renewable resource is discovered — an empty glass Coke bottle. Now, these people have never experienced a substance harder or more durable than bone, as there are no naturally occurring rock formations in range fo their territory. They quickly find many uses for the bottle, from music to tanning leather. The problem of only having one bottle quickly causes strife as the tribe experiences jealousy, shame, theft, and internal violence for the first time. This might be seen as leaning towards my hypothesis of man as a being in conflict.
Now, let’s bring this back to Ares. Ares in the ancient world was probably the least-loved god of them all. Ares embodied conflict, from the noble to the spiteful. Conflict didn’t sit well with people, and definitely does not today. I’ve heard more than a few people declare that “violence solves nothing”. I can’t help think that this sentiment is not only factually incorrect, but morally dangerous. Imagine for a second if human beings had never discovered or experienced conflict. Not only would we live in a bland, culturally stunted society, but I don’t think we’d ever be entertained. Conflict doesn’t just spice up politics; think of your favorite books, television shows, and even music. The whole sum progress of the human experience is derived by conflict against nature, against ideas, and against each other. Ares can teach us that this is a good thing. Unfortunately, modern Western culture has taught us that conflict is to be avoided. Ares drives home the idea that without conflict, even a little violence, life can not be just, nor can it be fully enjoyed or experienced.
Please don’t take this as a blanket condonement of violence and general ass-hattery. There is a time and place for everything. Even Ares tones it down once in a while (like his daughter’s wedding). You can’t just take things sitting down, either. When a pair of giants trapped ares in a bronze jar just to mess with him, he was rightfully ticked off. Following the rape of his daughter, Ares killed a son of Poseidon as recompense, and was acquitted of wrong-doing by a tribunal fo the Gods. Don’t be a wet noodle- stand up for yourself, because in reality, no one else will, not entirely.
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep promoting a healthy dose of conflict and controversy. I’m going to do my best to keep it sincere, too, because although I deeply value sarcasm and satire as vehicles of truth, I want to follow the example of my god in being unambiguous and forthright, even if it makes me more enemies than friends.