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.
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.
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
The condition that exists when people have developed effective ways of organizing a society and care about art, science, etc.
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.
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?
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.
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.
“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