A terrorist attack is always responded-to by conflicting voices of xenophobia (fear for strangers) and universal brotherhood. Such attacks remind us that the challenge of our times is to move from xenophobia to brotherhood, so we need to understand science of why-we-hate-each-other.
The first myth we need to debunk is of cooperative assimilation, because humans (not related by DNA) cooperate only for gain. Being selfish is completely natural and fundamentally human. So, for bonding beyond DNA level, brains need a strong link that provides a sense of interconnectedness.
Culture is a set of codes evolved by human societies to provide this critical linkage beyond the DNA-driven biological code.
A great way to understand the evolution of cultures is to look at them as a life forms. Just as differences in DNA prevent species from interbreeding and make them compete for survival, differences in social codes prevent cultures from intermixing and make them hostile towards each other. And, there is a great test-case that clearly demonstrates this phenomenon.
Island of New Guinea is only about four times in size of Gujarat. Humans arrived on it 40,000 years back and spread across its mountainous terrain that provided isolated pockets that are habitable.
This isolation turned the island into a great laboratory of anthropology, as it allowed cultures to evolve in small pockets. The result of this natural cultural experiment is that this small landmass has a whooping 1000 different languages and cultures that are hostile to each other. Even though incredibly large number of cultures evolved in really close proximity, instead of cooperating with each other, cultures opted for diabolical xenophobic traditions of war including cannibalism.
As we tend to look at history in its condensed form, it often creates illusion that cultures mix on their own over time. But, the bitter truth is, all such assimilations are violent and forceful in nature. As religion is a large part of DNA of every culture, it is required to be extinguished to achieve this. So, most cultural assimilations are results of religious wars aimed at killing or converting. As culture is an external code that is not biologically inherited, use of force does work in unifying people in long run, so this method has remained popular throughout history.
As this process is violent, many of us today are fearful of the conflict it brings. It is this fear that breeds a desire for brotherhood using mechanism of Stockholm syndrome. But, deep within xenophobia rages and it is always possible to bring it out by creating a survival threat like a terrorist attack.
Though a closer look at history reveals this horrible dimension of our psyche, it is also clear that humanity has to replace xenophobia with universal brotherhood. We are unlikely to survive warring each other, and must find a way for global cultural unification.
As religion is binding force for putting together a culture, we need a new global religion to replace those that divide us today.
I see rationality as a prime contender as it is a universal ability available to all of us that we can use as a philosophy for living life. Religions have been doing that job, but the time has come to make a move because collateral damage caused by religions in the era of global connectedness is far too much.
Rationality has already started doing the ground work. New generations trained in science are already questioning religious ideas using rationality. So, it is about time world religions see rationality as their natural successor and start a journey towards a new global code that must be put in place to end the era of cultural conflicts.
Science is our only hope, if we want to see the entire planet as a family of Man.