War And Motivation

People have been warlike since there were more than a few of us. Cain and Abel in Genesis being the first recorded example. While we seem preprogrammed for war, have we thought it through and decided it is not always in our best interest. Selfishness and greed are part of each of us and usually defeat higher reasoning.


Sanskrit is an ancient language found in India. It’s like Latin and Greek to Western civilizations — an ancient classic language. It gives us an insight into the idea of war.

In Sanskrit the word for war is “Gavisti.” It can be translated to mean, “A desire for more cows.” How instructive is that? We can adopt the idea that war is little more than large scale armed robbery. Being the aggressor in such a condition is hard to justify, but not so uncommon..

Wars we have seen or know about

There are many situations where governments, particularly the UN, have instituted action to destroy an opponent with shaky internal programs. Genocide being one. They argue they are doing it for the benefit of the local people and while there may be an element of that, it seems not to work very well.

If we ignore those skirmishes, the rest seem to be aggression with a benefit to the aggressor if successful.

  • Why did Germany invade Russia?
  • Why did Japan attack the United States?
  • Why did the United States defend a position in Viet Nam and Korea?
  • What were the Crusades about?

I am no historian, but it looks like wars fall into two categories

  1. To teach a miscreant rulers a good lesson
  2. To take something the aggressor values from the defender.

Modern warfare is different in style alone

Large scale shooting wars are rare, but that doesn’t mean there are no wars. Shooting is just one tactical choice. Strategy is different.¬†Today there are amazing cultural wars and “cold” wars. These are fought for the same purpose, being to take something from another.

Can we argue that “cancel culture” is like the Germans invading Russia to gain access to oil fields in the south of the country? Did the American “Indian Wars” have any purpose other than to consolidate the use of land? Is cyber warfare, while nearly invisible, different from robbing a bank or blockading a country?

In each case war means “You have something I want. Give it to me or I will kill you and take it.”

That does not seem like a morally persuasive position.

An alternative to aggression

Aggression happens when people run out of options. Some have just that one option.

Have you noticed that martial arts experts seldom fight? One sixth-dan black belt I know has the approach, “Hurting you is the last thing I want to do, but it is still on the list.” Because he knows he can do it, he can permit a much longer list of options ahead of it. Some would see that as weakness, but it is not. It is a clear statement of strength and capability. He doesn’t need surprise on his side.

Learn to negotiate. Learn to persuade. Learn compassion for the others. Help your opponent to be more insightful. Explore options, you’ll be surprised how narrow both your opponent and you have become. Avoid echo chambers and cognitive bubbles and you will be more insightful.

How often do people fall into a trap of “knowing” the right answer.¬†Scott Adams has a thought you should consider. “If you only know what happened, you don’t know anything because you don’t know what didn’t happen

Why is that? Because knowledge is not enough. You must seek and understand meaning. You can only do that if you examine both sides of any story.

Learn what “Cognitive Dissonance” means and avoid it to the extent possible. Learn what “Confirmation Bias” means so you do not seek information that only supports your opinion.

Acceptable solutions that benefit all are not found within thinking bubbles.

The bits to take away

Aggression should be the last instead of first resort.

Improve your empathetic and negotiation skills.

Understand the other side and help them improve their knowledge of your side.

Recognize cultural differences

Unless you are attacked. If that happens, respond skillfully and promptly.

Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.

I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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