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.
20080321033750!Explosion
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
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The Great and Powerful Hubris

HUBRIS

Extreme pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power. It is often associated with a lack of humility, though not always with the lack of knowledge.

hubris gorilla-fight

Behold the mighty hubris. See how it stands; Proud and defiant. The very image of strength and determination. It matters not to this magnificent creature whether it stands for truth, justice or common sense. It just matters that it stands.

Look, if you dare, at it’s mighty muscles. Watch it flex. See and believe. That is all that is required…for now.

Hear it roar. Listen to it defy all reason.  Proud it stands, full of hot air so much so it could heat up the globe for 1000 years.  Do you hear the call to arms; the march to war?  Do you hear it justify it’s existence?  It is the great and powerful hubris in action.

Do not question. Do not think for yourself. This powerful one frowns upon that. See how shiny it is and strong. It must know everything that is needed to be known.  There is no need to think. It will think for you. All that is needed is awe…and obedience.

Obey me it bellows.

hubris war by ivy-mike2

“And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains.
Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
― Percy Bysshe ShelleyOzymandias

hubris clearcut

We have seen much of this. Too much and it is not just the one inflicted who suffers from its fallout, it’s all of us. The whole world. We are connected and ever more so as our world becomes smaller due to our electronic communications. I myself have been communicating with others from all over the world. The internet has made this possible.

The internet has also made it more difficult to cover over and hide the horrible results of this infliction called hubris. Some of us may be being watched by our governments but this is a two-way street. We have eyes, we have ears and it’s not just the hauteur which has a roar. As does The People and We The People are tired of living in the fallout of mighty pride, arrogance and conceit.

Humility, respect and honesty have power too. As does love, compassion and understanding. Humanity is capable of much greatness. It just needs to be harnessed for the greater good of all instead for the temporary gain of small groups.  We are living at a time of fantastic change. Let us use our mutual talents for the positive. Let us include instead of exclude. There are no enemies, no borders or dividing lines. What affects our neighbors affects us too. We are all the same inside. Let us work with nature instead of against it. Let us be the generation that says stop all the madness!

Thanks for listening,

Strawberrryindigo.

 

world-peace

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” 

― William Faulkner

people happy-boy-face-close-up_w725_h544

Scilla Elworthy: Fighting with non-violence (TED Talks)
30 Dolphins Stranded … Share what happens next! (facebook.com)
Real Life Heroes (YouTube)
Restoring Faith in Humanity (YouTube)

The Sea of Humanity

The sea of humanity big-wave
Credit: Public Domain

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

~Mother Teresa

The best and the worst of us are inside us all. Everyone is represented. Every thought or idea. Every dream and every nightmare belongs to us as a whole. From the roar of the mighty tyrant to the whispering cries of the small and the innocent. That is us. This is we, this restless sea called humanity. Soft as a pillow on which to lie your weary head or as hard as a rock to bash your brains in. Humanity is kindness and love. Humankind forgives and understands. Humans are also selfish and petty, cruel and vindictive. We have it in our capacity to kill; destroy which we hate or do not understand…even ourselves. This is what we do. We also have within ourselves great nobility and courage. We have greatness and potential. We not only destroy, we can save and reserrect.
The darkest unspeakable horrors lie in our common past. We are animals after all and it is not so long ago that we needed that harshness, that willingness to embrace that dark part of us to survive. It is the nature of the beast after all and no matter how we try to hide it at times we are the beast. .

The worst and the best of us are inside all of us. Perhaps it is what it means to be human is to have this conflicting nature. Perhaps this is what gives us our drive. Think of us as you may, we are the dominant ones on this planet and it was our primitive ancestors who insured this legacy for us, we the so-called civilized inheritors.
We are the beast. The animal who watched wide-eyed the downfall of Earth’s last dominant species; the dinosaurs. Our rodent ancestors, the first of the mammals inherited purely by luck and then by sheer determination this fantastic planet. It was our predecessors who clung to the safety of trees. It was our for-bearers who climbed out of the safety of those trees and learned how to make and use tools. We learned to communicate and cooperate. It was this which helped us grow and expand, this banding together. This social bonding survives deep in our nature to this day.

Earth large
Credit: Public Domain

Where did we go wrong? Did we grow too smart for our own good? Did we grow too fast?  Did we forget that pure intelligence without wisdom is a recipe for disaster?Where we too successful? Will that killer instinct turn on us in the end and destroy us. We who shaped this planet into our own image.Or will that instinct help us survive and thrive?

Is our journey over?  Are we stuck on a plateau? Have we reached a golden age, never to return? Does evolution ever stop or are we still evolving?
I think we can, I think we are. I believe we have it within ourselves to grow into something amazing and quite wonderful. Some people believe we are at the end of our journey. They believe we have no business having traveled as far as we have. But we are not finished, we have only just begun. We are a child that has outgrown our playground. We are a child who is frightened to grow up. Growing is painful, growing hurts, but growing is what we must do….and it is within us all. It is up to all of us; every single drop in this sea of humanity.

Credit: Public Domain
Credit: Public Domain

We are all needed, but it starts with you…it starts with me. Together we can save ourselves and grow and change and become something we cannot fathom now, but something wonderful nonetheless.
It takes an act of kindness, multiplied by seven billion. It takes someone to stop keeping score. It takes a billion “I’m sorry’s” and “I care” and dammit, ” We can do this together!” It takes a trillion turns of the other cheek . It takes a light to shine the way and it takes seven billion to follow that light.

It will take all of humanity to save humanity.

We are frail, we are weak, we are human and together we are more powerful than any one of us can realize.

Thanks for listening,

Strawberryindigo.

 HumanPeaceSign
Credit: Public Domain

“One love, one heart, one destiny.”
~Bob Marley

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Kindness

Kind·ness:

The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. A kind act.

Synonyms            kindliness – goodness – favor – affability

Com·pas·sion:
Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. 
Synonyms:     commiseration – sympathy – condolence – empathy

How we humans treat our fellow humans is truly a measure of our collective humanity. Besides our intelligence, what sets us apart from other animals is the empathy and compassion we not only possess but thrive on.

We are all connected.  We all have wants and needs and feelings.  We are dependant on each other not just for tangible reasons but for emotional as well. We need each other.  It is instinctive and it goes back to our birth hundreds of thousands of years ago. And in my opinion it is one of the reasons we have become so formidable as a race.

There is strength in unity and harmony is essential to unity. Harmony is built on kindness and mutual respect. And as they say “Kindness begets kindness.”

Kindness can be simple and easy and fun. Doing an act of kindness feels good and it should. Altruism is a noble trait and as we endeavor to overcome our savage part and concentrate on the noble; even the simplest and most basic acts of kindness can go much further than we think.

Positive or negative emotions are contagious; they spread like wildfire.  One person’s bad day can leave behind a lot of bad feelings and bad days for others.  Of course, this goes the same for someone’s good day and it is these good days that must be shared.

The smallest of acts can make a dramatic difference. A kind word, even a smile can be heaven-sent to someone who’s having a bad day or rough go of it.  These days many people are having a rough go of it.

I have been on the giving and receiving end of this vital human connection and have experienced the full spectrum of feelings regarding it. As my experiences of late have shown me, being in the need of kindness makes one appreciate it all the more.

I can’t help but notice the kindness and generosity, the compassion possessed by those with the least to give. I see it time and time again and these times have really brought it home.  I have found people to be more understanding…more down to earth and much kinder than I ever thought.

If anything good could come out of this “Great Recession” it’s that it has forced many of us to slow down our rampant consumerism and concentrate on what is really important; each other, not things…….and really, if anything, no matter what your personal circumstances…..it’s given us all the more reason to be kind to each other.

Strawberryindigo.

The Smile Factor

Cat smiling at sanctuary
Image by rikkis_refuge via Flickr

Smile

According to my ancient Websters dictionary; A smile is defined as a change of facial expression involving the eyes and an upward curving of the corners of the mouth that may express amusement, pleasure, affection or irony.

That sounds a tad bit antiseptic. It doesn’t define the human element of a smile and the power that a smile has.

I believe that smiles are magical and slam dunk contagious.  A warm smile has the potential to melt the coldest of the cold.  If it is honest and heartfelt, one simple smile can mean so much to the receiver of such a gift.  A smile can convey sympathy and friendship.  It can say “I understand” or “you are not alone”.

Smiling Baby

The Smile Factor

Smiles unite us.  They break down language and cultural barriers. They are a basic part of our humanity. We are born with that smile factor; that need for a smile because acknowledge it or not, we all need them.

Warm smile
Image via Wikipedia

It can be easy to forget the power of a smile.  A sadness or anger can set in to a person that will cause them to never smile again.  Their face balling up into a permanent scowl.  This scowl may remove the possibility that anyone will ever smile at them again.  I think that sometimes people don’t realize the effect that we humans have on each other.

We are all connected and we affect each other more than we realize. One person’s bad day an easily become the next person’s.

Bad days are contagious too.

I have started to think about this of late. It seems some people save up their misdirected anger for someone “easier” who cannot retaliate.  “The customer is always right” is their motto above all else, even human dignity.  I have witnessed some rather awful behavior by some “right” customers.  Rarely do I witness the opposite.

Smile 2

Making a difference

I am but one person, but I believe that even one person can make a difference in the life of another.  So I am making it my habit to spread some good cheer around wherever I go. This is not always easy and I am not perfect, but I have found that putting aside my feelings a bit to sympathize with someone, pay a deserved complement or just a simple smile can have rewards in themselves that reach far beyond the here and now.

It’s easy and it spreads like wildfire.  Try it. Smile at a complete stranger if for no other reason that to just do it.  Watch the reaction you get.  A smile truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

Keep smiling

Strawberryindigo.

SMILE

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