Sunday, April 12, 2009

Violence, Aggression, Soccer, and Genetics

I'm not typically a physically aggressive person (verbally aggressive, sure, but most of my verbal threats are quite hollow). However, when I play soccer I become highly aggressive. In my mind, the soccer field is a field of battle and honor, and no victories will be won by the enemy that have not been hard fought and well earned. On the soccer field I put aside mercy, compassion, and kindness in the name of battle, power, and wrath. And my soccer playing makes me wonder just how determined I am by my ancestral heritage.

For, you see, my ancestors were German. Germans have a long history of being a proud and noble warrior people, from holding their own on the battlefield against most of the rest of the world not only once, but twice, all the way back to their barbarian roots fighting on the northern border of the Roman Empire against the Romans. And, while I am quite proud of my Germanic roots, I can't help but wonder how much of the aggression I feel on the soccer field is directly tied to the barbarian warrior blood that flows in my veins.

And, if genetic ties still linger from thousands of years and generations ago, this does not bode so well for free will. For, if my actions can be so heavily influenced by things that are so distant in my genetic history, it can be inferred that the things much more recent, such as the actions of my parents, have even more influence. Anyway, just thought I would share some off the cuff musings on the nature vs. nurture argument.

“The Promised Land always lies on the other side of a wilderness.”


Brint Montgomery said...
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Brint Montgomery said...

Here's a lie on your part: "...verbally aggressive, sure, but most of my verbal threats are quite hollow." Is this the same guy who more than once has thrown things at me in my own office?! Will I have to post a new rule to keep you in line or can your freewill override your nature (and/or nurture) in this matter? Don't believe him, people, his aggression is barely, and only imperfectly constrained. This is a dangerous man!

The Wanderer said...

Maybe I'm just aggressive toward you for genetic reasons. Do you have any French or English ancestors?

BrightenedBoy said...

Ha ha, I love this post.

I've actually wondered the same thing, about the possibility of a spiritual connection with one's ancestral past.

I'm Swedish on my birth-mother's side (and I really look like it), and she keeps telling me that a blood-thirsty, axe-wielding warrior is going to come out one day.