We’ve been watching the Hunt on the BBC. It’s wildlife documentary making at its best: Attenborough narrating, fantastic filming, beasts killing other beasts in order to survive.
The boys love it.
It’s been interesting to watch them as they come to terms with some of their favourite animals being brutally killed. I’ve noticed, for example, the less and animal looks like us, the less they care if it dies.
They still do care, though. But they understand.
They understand that in order to survive, sometimes things get killed.
The Hunt is about killing to eat, not killing to defend, protect or attack. Still, it’s been a good way to open up conversations around is it ever right to burst in and hurt others?
We’ve chatted about ensuring our children survive. We’ve chatted about killing one of many in order to sustain a family. We’ve discussed how most animals only kill what they need to kill; but not humans.
We’ve then moved on to wondering why humans seem to fight far more readily than many other animals.
As the Hunt has shown us, such is the energy required to attack, animals only do it if they are incredibly sure that they will win. Even then, many only make the kill about one time out of eight attempts.
But obviously, we think, we are different to animals. More clever. The risks we can take can be more calculated. More thoughtful. More compassionate. We have better weapons.
To try to understand how humans differ from other animals, we move from tales of the wild to tales of the playground: my kids know they should not fight. They should not hurt. They should work to diffuse situations and if the can’t do that they should tell a responsible adult.
They are not allowed to get what they want by using violence. Even hateful words are not permitted.
They also, though, know that if they are backed into a corner and someone is hurting them that I will support them 110% if they need to hurt back. If they truly see there is no other way out than a sharp kick to the shin, that’s fine with me.
Given how we have raised them, and what they have worked out for themselves, if we do decide to bomb Syria I wonder how I will explain that to the kids.
Perhaps they will just assume that we have considered how many strikes such as this end in failure.
Maybe they will suppose we are doing this because we know it will guarantee their future safety.
It could be that they will believe we are doing it because we are backed in to a corner and have absolutely no other options available to us.
Problem is, I think their assumptions give us too much credit.
The kids understand that in order to survive, sometimes we kill. But all things considered, is now the right time for us to strike?
I’m pretty sure I know what my kids would think.