By: Raymond Greiner
The history of warfare and the design of war, we are familiar with during this stage of human development, began in earnest after human living design distanced itself from the long time hunter-gatherer format. Sumer, in the Mesopotamian era, was the first established urban zone and also the first to organize a standing army around 3000 BCE. Agriculture expansion created conditions for Sumer’s success as the first major metropolitan area, located in the Fertile Crescent area and Mesopotamia, which interprets to “land between two rivers.” This new food acquisition method, with the bulk of the population crowded in close proximity, changed the manner of food distribution and consumption. Money was invented to assist dispersal efficiency. Prior to this time barter and trade were the accepted methods of distribution; humans had been roaming the Earth for two million years before this new configuration was applied.
The most interesting aspect of my research for this essay is the reality of how humanity survived, thrived and endured for such a long period, and then evolved to a new, modern social configuration. The most compelling fact during the early eras of human presence was a fraction of numbers created during contemporary timelines. Population expansion has lent the major influence on today’s global social complexities.
As we expanded in numbers and began to clearly mark geographic borders, this gave birth to the new yet commonly-perceived term, “ownership”, which represents the beginning of extreme changes in collective human behavior. Ownership influenced all criteria of living. The influx of money expanded its power allowing opportunity for the formation of governments and application of taxation as a means to infuse higher degrees of social control. Government leaders sought expansion of land holdings through conquest requiring intense application of military force designed for invasion, moving beyond basic protection. As conquest ambitions escalated, areas threatened by conquest were forced to establish armies for defense; thus, large-scale war was born, escalated, and has never ceased.
Prior to this, humanity was living and functioning in direct connection with Earth and its natural offerings, where they did not desire or have need to conquer. Money and its influence were absent as tribal units and bands were small, efficient and harmonious. During early human development land was not owned but shared. Religions formed, adding fuel to the fires of war, manifesting a position of self-righteousness, imposing their beliefs; war offered a method to destroy the evil, conflicting systems of God’s praise. When the ancients functioned in small bands and tribes scattered globally living and surviving through direct contact with Earth, they showed much greater unification and harmonious behavior than what we see after “the birth of civilization”. Post the birth of civilization began the era of large-scale warfare.
I enjoy reading expressions of naturalists who study wolf behavior and how wolves have functioned for thousands of years. Wolves demonstrate great intelligence applying instincts to band and live as they do reflect ancient human behavior. When humanity massed in large numbers forming cities it was an attempt to create a more comfort-oriented environment in contrast to the harshness of Earth’s natural presentations. Wolves’ ability to unify and multiply efficiently emulates methods early humans applied. Neanderthal tribes ranged from what is now Africa to the high latitudes of current Russia, surviving and thriving in those harsh and most challenging conditions. Neanderthal, highly skilled at living in direct connection with Earth, survived and thrived, as a species for over 300,000 years and speculation is that they ultimately assimilated with the Modern Human Species, looking much like we look today, and the Neanderthal eventually disappeared. Wolf packs and early humans were similar in mannerisms and purpose of species survival. Unity and order formed a teamwork base for success and wolf studies reveal fascinating details about wolves evolving into such successful hunters. Wolf packs move as a unit when on a hunt, often led by the Alpha female. And in general female wolves are better hunters overall. The pack members are given specific assignments and this format is repeated over and over again. Caribou/wolf interaction has been intensely studied revealing how a wolf pack approaches this survival challenge. Wolves don’t randomly attack the caribou herd in a pack and overwhelm them in a vicious killing spree, mainly because they can’t. Caribou sense the wolf’s presence and they can easily outrun wolves. Even very young caribou can run as fast as the rest of the herd. The wolves assign runner wolves and these chosen wolves run the herd back and forth wearing them down. The second group of wolves, usually younger, stronger wolves are assigned as killer wolves. As the runner wolves chase the caribou the killer wolves observe them and identify slower caribou at the rear of the herd, these are most often the older or sick animals, which offer an easier kill. The killer wolves choose their moment and also choose a particular caribou. The killer wolves attack on the oblique since they are slower than the caribou and strike their prey from the side making it easier to knock the animal down for the kill. This wolf-caribou relationship has been going on for thousands of years and these two species rely on each other for survival. This predator/prey, natural formula, has been a prime function on our planet since the earliest life forms appeared. In recent times the caribou were indicating decline and it was calculated that wolf kills was the reason for this decline causing a bounty to be placed on wolves. Adolph Murie was the park naturalists for Mt. McKinley National Park for thirty years and probably has more field time studying wolves than anyone else. He argued that the increase in human population, heavily hunting the caribou, was the reason for this decline and in Canada the government even encouraged native people to kill more caribou since they were so numerous, giving them free rifles for their hunts. Eventually, Murie became convincing, and the bounty was lifted on the wolves. Muire and other naturalists proved the caribou decline had nothing to do with wolves’ method of pack survival, as they had been doing for eons. The cause of the decline was human disruptive intervention.
In conclusion, war has damaged humanity, and war’s expansion and horror was created from our drift as a species away from natural conditions of Earth ecology and gifts of life, and as our population continues to expand the likelihood of war will also expand. It behooves us as a species to reconnect with Earth, to the best of our ability. If we can adjust our own expansion, combined with intense preservation practices, we can gain more understanding as to how and why this connection is necessary. If such an effort can be accomplished we may rediscover a more balanced, peaceful and unified world.
It is my sincere hope wolves will always be with us, contributing to the longevity of not only wolves but also all animal species. They are attached to of our world as much as we are.