Conflict is innate in human cultures and defines human behavior from birth to death. It is, one could say a basic element in our DNA. The term DNA, the abbreviation for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, has been adopted in the common vernacular to describe basically anything that is fundamental to anything else, but it is still typically used in reference to a human trait or characteristic that is considered to be an integral part of a human being’s character and/or behavior. Physically and behaviorally it usually refers to feature that is unique and characteristic to a particular individual. But that is only a very small part of the genetic makeup of an individual biological being. Almost all of the genetic code of an individual human is common not only to the ethnic group(s) that is the heritage of that individual but also to all existing human beings extending back to the murky and genetically composite origin of the genus Homo and the species H. sapiens And that is just the beginning of our genetic heritage, all vertebrates, from whales, to guppies, to eagles, to sparrows, to tigers and dinosaurs, share most of the genetic coding that guides internal chemistry, physical development, and the behavior patterns that are integral and essential to utilize inherited physical and behavioral traits to achieve survival of the species.
So what does that have to do with the propensity of human beings to engage in the behavior of conflict. Well actually, everything. Conflict is basic to human behavior, as is cooperation, and there is even conflict within the cooperative behavior that allows groups to survive. Competition is just a euphemism for conflict a less intense form of the conflict of a fight to the death and destruction of in war. Humans seek and enjoy conflict in the form of athletic rivalry, card games, feats of strength, mental abilities, and races of all kinds. Conflict is found within families, on the playground, in the streets, in schools, in the workplace, in politics (big time), and within and between every kind of human associations, including, of course, within and between all religions (really big time).
The roots of the behavior of of human conflict are found in the struggle for survival that shaped the basic vertebrate genome, the fundamental DNA that is shared by all vertebrates. The wolf hunting a rabbit, the alpha lion protecting his social position in the pride from an aggressive young male, the head to head battle between antlered buck deer, and one tribe of chimpanzees violently protecting or seeking territory occupied by another chimpanzee tribe, are all examples of the genetically directed behavior of conflict that in both predator and prey serves to enhance survival of the species. This is also within the genetic heritage of Homo sapiens and it shapes our individual and tribal behavior with all the factors that effect our fight for the survival of our species, not only against the forces of nature, but also against the challenges posed by other humans as well. If our intelligence, development of language and cooperative behavior had not serviced and directed the survival imperative for our species, we would still be just small groups of animals in conflict with each other for the territorial control that means survival of ourselves and our progeny.