Animals have the ability to interact with each other, helpfully or aggressively, but as they can’t speak, they can’t really explain what’s on their mind. Except perhaps for whales. Now that probably doesn’t stop them from communicating emotions to each other and they can even organise into groups for hunting and let each other know where they found food. But they can never communicate more complex ideas and beliefs (assuming that they even have any.)
For that you need language. With language you can communicate very clearly what you feel and think. And that’s the problem.
You might not like hearing what I think. I might strongly disagree with your most deeply held beliefs. You might think my ideas stink. Come on then, what are you going to do about it?
Language lets human beings think complex thoughts and construct elaborate belief systems. We hold these beliefs dear. Sometimes we’re willing to die for an idea. And if we’re willing to die, then maybe we’re willing to kill too. Millions of people have been killed because of ideas.
Now, dying for an idea requires a certain amount of selflessness. Literally a belief in something bigger than us. It’s not a selfish act. An Evil person, if you believe in such a thing, wouldn’t sacrifice themselves for an ideal. Good, morally upstanding people do that.
So, in turn, it’s the morally upstanding people who do the killing.
Take a hard look at who’s fighting around the world. You’ll find people with strong beliefs, committed to a cause. Often they are people with books, or long-standing traditions to feed their beliefs. They may be religious, they may not. But they are people who think of themselves as good.
This is the tragedy in a nutshell. Who needs evil in the world, when good people disagree so violently?
But there’s a glimmer of hope here, because understanding this problem is the first step in solving it. And while language may be the cause of our differences, talking to each other must surely be the way to overcome them.