You are here

Don't Underestimate the Power of Agression

When we ask people all over the globe for their highest values we will always find two at the top. The first is God, or a higher power. That makes sense; humans have held up under extreme adversity, violence, and degradation with the belief that God (or a higher power) will see them through, but,  if not, that they will be rewarded with everlasting life in a higher state of being. But let us look at a strange point to the contrary.

In ancient Egypt the pharoahs were not considered to be the gods' representatives on Earth, but gods themselves. You did what the god told you to do; his (or her in a few cases) word was absolute. That is one reason Egypt was so stable for around two thousand years.

Consider though the various plots against pharoahs. According to the Egyptologist, Manetho, bodyguard of King Teti of the 6th Dynasty murdered him. King Amenemhat I of Dynasty 12 probably met his end to murder. Rameses III of Dynasty 20 had a conspiracy against him known as "The Harem Plot," that might have succeeded. King Seqenenre Tao of Dynasty 17 has mortal wounds to his skull. Hatshepsut, the first female pharoah, ruled as regent for Thutmose III until she arrogated the role of Pharoah - unheard of until then - to herself. Some historians believed Thutmose may have murdered her out of a long standing grudge and then took the throne. Some believe Akhenaten, the monotheist, who incurred the wrath of his ministers for his firebrand ways, may have incited them to kill him. And then there was Tut. King Tuthankamen, son of Akenaten, may have been assasinated by those who wanted to remove any vestiges of the reign of his seditious father. Some now say he died of an infected broken leg, but the point remains that there was intrigue at court, and probably the plots or actual assasinations.

How could a subject possibly consider killing  the Pharoah, a god on Earth? The gods were the highest value of all; they were the reason the sun rose and set, the Nile flowed, and the crops grew in abundance. So what was this higher value?

The second value people all over the world will claim as most important is probably more important than God, as many do not believe in God or a higher power. That subaltern value, or course, is their children. People will do anything for their children. They will move Heaven and Earth for their children. In fact, that is a bilogical imperative. Mammals will put themselves in harm's way to protect their offspring. For humans, who have the power of abstract thought and so a conception of the future, children are a continuation of us. They are our immortality. Indeed, there is something selfish in that. Be that as it may, we must consider some other strange cases.

We have all heard cases of parents cutting grown offspring out of their wills for marrying out of the faith, or being gay, or engaging in acts the parents believe have shamed the family, such as crimes or scandals.

There are parents who cut children out of their lives for the same perceived infractions or for lesser ones. Parents have stopped talking to their children for the friends they keep or for some terrible insult. This is not only true; it is fairly common.

Then there are the honor killings in some Asian countries. Family members, including fathers, immolate daughters (nieces, sisters, etc.) for dressing inappropriately, refusing arranged marriages, homosexuality, performing trysts, or even for non-sexual relationships that might lead to sexual relations. It is true that these perpetrators believe they do this for a higher calling, God's law; it nevertheless violates the second principle of this article, that people will do anything for their children.

The case of the South Carolina mother who suffocated her own small children because she "wanted to be free" [of parental responsibility] or the other South Carolina  woman who drowned her two toddlers in her car for fear that her boyfriend would leave her due to the kids getting in the way.

What was going on here? In one case it was the desire for "freedom" and in the other the fear of lost support.

In both cases there was no higher power, and no insults on the children's parts. Thus, on the dark side of the human behaviour spectrum there must be a higher value than God or the imperative to bring one's offspring into adulthood that they may procreate themselves.

What's higher than God? What's higher than children? For some, those who give in to their deeper, darker impulses, this value is power. And behind power is agression. Many of us do not give in to these impulses, but the cases cited show that many do. That is why hatred and agression seem to be more powerful forces than love in this world. Please prove me wrong.


Stuart Kurtz

February 25, 2011

If you like my writing style, consider hiring me on free-lance contract. Reach me at  My blog is








Filed under: