Chimpanzees have a well-deserved reputation for being aggressive. They fight over food, over sex, and over territory. They fight for dominance and out of jealousy.
Sometimes I don’t think they even know why they are fighting – some fights among the seven end with all of them standing in a circle, screaming and looking around at each other as if to see if anyone else remembers what they are fighting about.
But as violent as chimps may be, fights are relatively infrequent. They are much more likely to be hugging,
and holding hands (and feet).
I used to think it was strange that animals capable of such extreme violence could be so tender and gentle. But I’m beginning to think it’s precisely because they are so violent that they are also so tender and gentle. A society with that level of aggression would not last long without an equally powerful force holding it together.