The Ascent and Descent of Man

 

 From our earliest beginnings we as a species have striven to become more than what we are. It is  inborn within us and it is more than the simple will to live but to thrive and dominate. This is us; what we come from.  It is by no mistake that we Homo Sapiens rule the world and all life upon it. And it is by no peaceful means either. We fought hard, tooth and claw, to get on top of the food chain. Our mutual family history is littered with war upon war, conquest upon conquest. We have erected (what we deem) civilization  built on a culture of want, propelled by the rampant machine of consumerism and paid for by we the people and our children.
  It’s easy to be judgmental. Pessimistic even about the human race and it’s future. I have heard a rumbling dislike for our own species from some. I do not echo that feeling. I cannot hate my own kind which would include myself, my children, my family and friends and basically everyone. This is defeatist and makes no sense to me.  We are all in this together.
If we are to be judged, are we to be judged not only by our faults but by our graces as well? We are an amalgam of the worst and the best of us.
Earth_Day_Another_Earth sunrise
And so we begin at the dawn of man.  We Homo Sapiens were not the first humanoid.  That honor belongs to  Australopithecus Afarensis and there have been many. The exact number has not been agreed upon.  Here is a link to a list.
We alone survived. Our last competitors, the ultra-hardy Neanderthals died out about 40,000 years ago. We scaled that evolutionary ladder higher and embraced “civilization” instead of living a marginal existence by the whim of cruel nature. We overcame it and become masters of our fate.
We strove to succeed in this way and progress; onward and upward. Nothing stood in our way. We were out to conquer nature and each other and we have done so and most infamously.
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It is one thing to be clever and another to be wise~George R.R. Martin
Whether what we have put together constitutes a civilization I am not convinced.  I look at the world at large and the small goings-on in the microcosm that surrounds me  and I have my doubts. It seems that we are losing ground as well on a whole and as time goes by and resources grow scarcer if we are not careful we will stray even further from the path of true civilization.
Civilization is the stage of human social development and organization that is considered most advanced.

When I read Webster’s

Simple Definition of civilization

  1. The condition that exists when people have developed effective ways of organizing a society and care about art, science, etc.
  2. A particular well-organized and developed society.

I realize just how not civilized we are. This brings to mind Gandhi’s famous reply to being asked the question of what he thought of  Western civilization.

I think it would be a very good idea. Said Gandhi and so do I.

I've got the whole world in my hands

We are like a clever child. We have harnessed great power, we have made great strides, and cured many diseases. We have extinguished much suffering in the world, but we have also caused much of it too.  We do not yet possess the wisdom required to wield great power. We have squandered a lot of resources. We have raped and pillaged the planet and now we stand on a precipice staring into an abyss and instead of jumping over the cliff , we need to walk away from the edge and get to the business of saving ourselves; that is what our business should be. Like any child who has a messy room, we need to clean it up but there is no adult around to make sure we do it.  It’s time for us to grow up and become that adult. We have remained a child far too long.
 It’s time for us to stop finding reasons to divide each other and look for ones that unite us.
We need to work together and stop the destructiveness, the pettiness, the greed.
That is being civilized.
We who can harness the atom are in the process of shaping our world; the world we’ll leave to the future.
 What will we leave?
china air pollution
“Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge.― Ray Bradbury
One of our many brilliant strengths as a species is our ability to adapt. Events play out in a fluid motion; constantly swirling and changing. Nothing is forever, and we have not only kept up with the changes, we have thrived on and benefited from them. Our rise would not have been possible without the downfall of the previous rulers of this planet. The Dinosaurs dominated for more than 180 million years.
 No matter how terrible that “Terrible Lizard” was, it had it’s day and we are having ours.
 
dinosaurs Scientist Says Dark Matter May Have Caused Dinosaur Die Off
Nothing is permanent, but change. – Heraclitus
 
The dinosaurs couldn’t adapt, but we can. We have it within ourselves if we can take our collective human cleverness and temper it with some good common sense and painfully acquired wisdom that we can glean from our current challenges. Circumstance forces us to act not in our time but it’s own.
That time is coming I’m afraid, we all know it.
We can be our own worst enemy but we are also our own greatest hope.
Of course change is not new and every generation faces it’s own challenges, some more than others. Climate change is our challenge but that is only part of the picture. We must change ourselves and put aside our childish ways because the way we’ve been doing things just isn’t cutting it.
We can’t stop the planet from changing. We have no choice but to adapt but we will grow stronger and wiser because of it and perhaps one day we will be truly civilized.  I am but one faint voice, there have been many before me and there will be many after me, this I believe. This is the one constant.
~NLM
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Graffiti Artist Banksy
Graffiti Artist Banksy
“The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.
Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.”
Howard Zinn

Can humans evolve beyond war?

There was a time when our ancestors roamed in hunter-gatherer bands who lived on the frayed edges of existence. Outsiders were seen as a threat, a valid one indeed. Our survival was insured by this protective, cloistered behavior. We as many other species thrive in a group, a pack or tribe.  This us vs. them is a part of us. It is inborn and innate and it starts early.

At one time this tribal mentality worked to our advantage, but as global populations swelled and competition for resources increased, our survival depended not only on the cooperation of a small group but on the greater one at large. It truly does take a a village to survive for most of us.  We are not only connected in this village but we are dependent on each other. At the very least, what I do effects my neighbor and vice versa.

 

Earth large

This is not a choice. It is a fact.

Another fact:  the earth is changing. Regardless of why, it is and we as a species must adapt. This requires cooperation and understanding.  This at least requires an honest and constructive discourse with each other and ourselves.

Circumstances and surroundings change faster than we do. It is our ability to adapt paired with luck that has gotten us this far.

There is no room for us vs them. This way of thinking leads to the inclusion of some at the exclusion of others. It is a childish attitude that must be eradicated.  We need to grow beyond all this. We all belong to each other on this beautiful planet we share.  We are beyond boundary lines and colored shapes on a map.

most-powerful-photograph-27.preview peace

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We as a species have always seemed to thrive on war. Is it even possible for the human race not to have war? Will fate allow us the time it takes to evolve past this ultimately self-destructive inclination?

Is it even possible for us to evolve past this?   Is it within the capabilities of humankind to not only see humanity as a whole but as a connected and thriving whole capable of almost limitless potential?

Can we even entertain this as a realistic outcome to our present manic state?

box tax war

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
― Thomas A. Edison

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I am reminded of the story of the Scorpion and the frog.

The-Scorpion-and-the-Frog1

One fine spring morning a scorpion spied a frog at the edge of a stream. “Hello friend frog.” said the scorpion with a smile. “Could you please ferry me across to the other side of the stream?”  At first the frog refused; bringing up the valid point that it feared the scorpion would sting it. After much sweet talk the scorpion convinces the frog it will not. “After all…” said the scorpion to the frog: “I cannot swim therefore if I sting you we shall surely both perish.” The frog finally consents and allows the scorpion to climb on its back. It proceeds to make the swim across the stream. Suddenly the scorpions stings the frog.  “Why did you do that?!” asks the frog as they both sink below the surface. “It is my nature”.  The scorpion explains.

Isn’t it fortunate we are human beings and not scorpions or frogs? It is possible to evolve past our violent and self-destructive nature into something wondrous and incredible. We are a thinking, reasoning species and we do have the advantage over other animals because we can and do play a a major role in guiding our evolution.

We as a species are about to embark on a great challenge and opportunity.  It can be an opportunity if we see it that way.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” 
― Albert Einstein

Wishing you a fantastic and peaceful day!

Strawberryindigo.

war-is-over if you want it lennon christmas

“They’re in love.  F*** the war.”
― Thomas PynchonGravity’s Rainbow

“If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

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world peace in public domain

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The Evolution of Human Aggression (LiveScience.com)