European men often glorify war; the self-sacrificial will of the warriors, the special trust and comradeship forged between men in war and the ability of and opportunity for men to show their courage, strength and skill! The romantic image of the warrior is very strong with us!
In reality war is of course horrible. It is not only horrible, because what we glorify in this context is also true, but it is mainly horrible. Especially when it affects women and children, like it does today, and like it always has done.
War is actually a rather modern phenomenon though: it came with agriculture in the Neolithic age, because man settled down and started to have conflicting interests that they had never had before, usually over land, and that affected not just individuals, but entire tribes.
Before agriculture "war" didn't exist, as is suggested by all archaeological evidence. Instead we had duels...
The duel continued to exist in Europe well into historic times, even after the introduction of agriculture, and in a sense it still does, at least with children, who every now and then agree to settle things with a fair fight, boy against boy (or maybe I am just very old… we at least used to do that when I was a kid).
The concept of the duel was to allow each family or tribe to present a champion that was to represent them. This way the suffering and losses were reduced to a minimum for both sides, and it was indeed a very honest way to settle disputes. The champion forged a strong bond to his family or tribe by standing up and fighting for them, and in fact they enjoyed all the positive sides of war.
A duel is often thought of as a very deadly event, at least for one of the duelists, but in reality it for dueling varied a lot in Ancient Europe, but generally speaking we can say that the idea was that two men met to fight on a small island, within a stone circle or on a hill top, or some other limited area. If a champion was forced out of the area by the other champion, he lost the duel (like in Sumo wrestling). When weapons were involved the point was rarely to kill the other champion, or even to maim him: the point was to ensure that the other champion was the first to be injured. The first one to bleed lost the duel. As simple as that. They also had other rules, like they usually restricted the number of shields each champion was allowed to use in the duel to three, and of course the challenged part was allowed to choose the type of duel they were going to have.
Wasting the best men in war is folly. You see, the best men die in war, and are therefore not able to produce children inheriting their qualities. They die because they are the most self-sacrificial and the most courageous and thus the most likely to die first. And they do. And they did. En masse
. Our best men were cut down like hay, for thousands of years, reducing rather than increasing the quality of our species. The men left to impregnate the women were most of the time of inferior quality.
Would you not have preferred that e. g. the Norse hero on Stamford bridge (who was said by the men he was fighting against to have killed 40 of their warriors all by himself) instead survived and was able to procreate? If we can assume that he didn't have any children before this his good genes are instead lost forever, because of war. What a loss to Europe!
From now on, whenever I talk warmly about war please remind me of the fact that duels are much better, in every way, as long as European brothers fight each other. Champions representing tribes in duels are no less heroic and admirable than warriors going into battle. The champion survive. And he will get the best woman instead of a man inferior to him. And he will procreate. And he thus improves the genetic quality of our species!
Let us embrace a system for Europe that lets the best amongst us prevail, at the expense of the worst. Not vice versa
War is only something we should seek when all other routes are closed.
To those who think duels need only be about physical strength, and thus only promotes brutes, I can tell that duels were often of intellectual nature: word duels were quite common. They fought in duels of wits, and the smartest emerged as the winner. Sometimes even the funniest won. "The first one to make (an impartial part) laugh has won". We even know this type of challenge from mythology, when Loki has to make Skaði laugh as part of an agreement.