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Cain and Abel


by Izzy Kalman (July 2003)

At my seminars I often talk about sibling rivalry. Brothers and sisters are biologically programmed to love each other, even though it appears that they want to kill each other.

On a few occasions, seminar participants have pointed to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel as proof that the nature of siblings is, indeed, to want to kill each other. But is this so?

Look at the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis. You will find that it is the very first story that happens after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The expulsion marks the beginning of civilized life. Previously, Adam and Eve lived naturally as hunter-gatherers, just like all the animals. They disobeyed God’s command to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and as punishment they were expelled. As a result, they obtained the understanding of the difference between good and evil, began living by laws, and had to grow their own food (the advent of agriculture).

The Cain and Abel story therefore, can only be used as an indication that siblings want to kill each other in Civilization, not necessarily in Nature. And if you do observe the world of nature, including human tribes who are still hunter-gatherers, you will discover the problem of sibling rivalry does not exist. In Nature, siblings help and protect one another, and if the parent dies, the older sibling raises the younger ones. Sibling rivalry becomes a problem only in Civilization, because parents naively think it is their business to play judge between their children.

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