Some of the greatest rivalries that the world has ever seen have been sibling rivalries. From Elizabeth and Mary’s family feud as to who should govern England, to the fictional passive-aggressive relationship shared by Sherlock and his brother Mycroft Holmes, such pseudo-enmity is usually the result of ideological differences which in turn rise from different (life) experiences. Now, while these differences don’t always snowball into massive vendettas, it’s pretty useful to know the most common causes, and the subsequent effects (arranging for a sibling’s death while he/she is in the forest, hunting, has not been included).

Causes. “Time” takes the throne here. Siblings are usually born somewhere between one to twenty years after one another (unless we’re talking about twins, in which case, please skip this paragraph). Now. Think. How many things change in a year? Let’s consider the year that just got over. Several regime changes, a whole lot of democratic elections, Mangalaayan, the landing of a probe on a comet, the release of “Interstellar” and Apple Inc. finally releasing a large-screen iPhone! So look. If so much can happen in a year, the experiences of two growing siblings separated by three-four years are quite obviously going to be different. Henceforth, there’s a difference in ideology, and the inevitable quarrels happen.

That said, there are a large number of secondary reasons. Primary among them: genes. Heredity is determined by genes. Now, there are over 70000 genes, and therefore a massive number of possible permutations. This ensures that the possibility of having two exactly identical kids is near zero. Other than that, we have differences arising from gender differences, different schools, different friends, and, in short, different (almost) everything.

Effects. The effects aren’t as flowery as you may think. Most siblings learn to live with each other’s differences, with the occasional fight that’s soon forgotten amidst all the laughter that follows. In fact, real disputes often rise out of issues totally unrelated to the overall experiences of life, instead taking root in a single issue; like matters of inheritance. However, there is the odd childhood enmity, usually seen in “power households” or families which have a lot of power. Case(s) in point: Tudors, Mughals, Ambanis.

As you may have guessed, I do have a sibling myself. No, the ten-year age gap, different genders, and genes haven’t driven us apart. Therefore, you’ll never see any sibling rivalry in our family. I love my books and toys and gifts way too much to destroy the supply.


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