Humans are Capable of Both Peace and Violence

A little phrase I like to say is that life is murder, and life is sex. Why this is true should be obvious, but I’ll explain it anyway.

Life is created from the act of reproduction. This happens in many different ways across the spectrum of life, but most animal life, and particularly for humans, it happens through sex.

Life is maintained by murdering other life. This too happens in many different ways, but life needs energy and nutrients to persist and gets it from other forms of life.

There’s nothing more natural than murder and sex.

Unfortunately, all too often humans are murdered by other humans. Cannibalism is not really a natural human trait. We can eat each other, but we typically don’t want to or need to. So the murder we see is not for that purpose.

Most of the murder performed by humans are of other forms of life, plants and animals. It seems like that’s 99% of the murder humans have committed and continue to commit on a daily basis.

We need food, and so we, like so many other lifeforms, use violence to get it. Sometimes this involves other humans. Sometimes our quest to meet our many needs means other people are going to die.

I think that all of this proves that it is quite natural and quite human for us to use violence.

But I also think it’s quite natural and quite human for us to be and remain in a state of peace with one another. Violence is not so endemic to our species that peace is impossible. We’ve seen peaceful societies and see people in a state of peace vis a vis each other around the world today.

People like to debate whether humans are born with either the natural inclination for peace or for violence. I believe this is a false dichotomy. I think history has proven that humans are born with both the natural inclinations for peace and for violence.

When we witness one or the other, what this should tell us is not what it means to be human in this regard, but rather, what the current state of affairs says about the ease of which people are meeting their needs.

When you see violence being used, that’s an indication that the people involved believe they need to use violence to meet their needs. And conversely, when you see people being peaceful with one another, that’s an indication that needs are being met without the use of violence.

Therefore the relevant question is: how do we make sure people’s needs are met with peace in order to avoid the use of violence?

And I’ve yet to find a better answer than: start with peaceful parenting and radical unschooling at the beginning of life, and maintain it with free markets to ensure the laws of economics aren’t violated in a world of scarcity. In other words, voluntaryism is how you maintain peace and avoid violence among humans.

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Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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