Thursday, October 01, 2009

I'd Quit if I Could


“…what (the discovery of) Ardipithecus tells us is that we as humans have been evolving to what we are today for at least 6 million years."
C. Owen Lovejoy, an evolutionary biologist at Kent State University. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/10/01/oldest.human.skeleton/index.html

Six million years and we STILL can’t get along! Six million years in the making and where are we? On the brink of self-destruction, standing firm with our missiles and our bombs and our carbon emissions, unable to listen, unable to hear, unable to control ourselves, unable to share. Have these things been wrong with us for all 6 million years? Will we never learn?

14 comments:

Barbara said...

Unfortunately some negative characteristics just never seem to disappear with evolution. I find the recent discoveries fascinating. I keep projecting ahead to those who find our remains millions of years from now. What will they have to say about us?

Molly said...

Yeah. So evolved we are! But savages still....

Pauline said...

barbara - I love your optimism.

molly - I joked with my daughter that perhaps the scientists have it wrong, that our strongest instinct is not self-preservation but self destruction. Then I realized that it's not funny...

focusfinder said...

In another few million years our planet might have a better behaved "dominant" life form looking after her.

PhilipH said...

Yes Pauline, perhaps we've 'evolved'a tad too far.

We no longer need slash others to death with swords, or even with rifle bullets. We can obliterate millions in a flash; a nuclear flash.

It's oft been suggested that the heads of state who seek to destroy a state should fight it out in an arena. Leave the millions of ordinary folk out of the conflict.

Pauline said...

One can always hope, B

Philip - I like that suggestion!

Reya Mellicker said...

Actually in terms of earth time, six million years is a very short time, almost the blink of an eye. I think we're doing the best we can, it's just the opposable thumb. It's a problem enabling us to make beauty and destruction with great skill. Without opposable thumbs we would be like so many crows, scolding each other.

Pauline said...

Reya, I'd be interested in knowing what crows think of us two-leggeds...

Vincent said...

Am I allowed to be logical here? Six million years of evolution has seen survival and further evolution of homo sapiens. That is learning.

Some of the goals you allude to have been around for twenty years, others a hundred; and are still at the stage of being exhortations by the leaders.

Evolution works rather slowly.

Patterns of coexistence and culture such as languages, monogamy, tribal rituals, caring for the weak and sick, take longer, and are still not universally adopted.

Let's not feel guilty about a few crises that afflict us today. So far, things aren't nearly as bad as they were in the Dark Ages, when empires crumbled; Goths, Vandals, Huns and Vikings rampaged Europe.

Pauline said...

Vincent - your comment led me to think about conflict. In the interest of learning, I googled the number of wars in history. This site brought me up short (http://www.warscholar.com/Timeline.html)

Eleni said...

Like Sting said in a song:
History will teach us nothing!

Vincent said...

Or as Douglas Adams said, "History teaches us that man learns nothing from history."

Meggie said...

I ask these same questions! I like to think we have evolved, spiritually. Sadly, I do not think we have...

Land of shimp said...

Too true, bipeds...we're incredibly imperfect, often hostile, petty, grasping, violent.

Aren't those the very things that make our ability to extend compassion, kindness and love so remarkable?

We sometimes achieve such beautiful things, both in thought and deed. Music, art, sculpture, architecture -- all coming from our petty natures. All overcoming our lesser selves.

It is not remarkable that we continue to point guns, bombs, cannons and aircraft at one another. All of life is a violent struggle, isn't it? To have the necessary animation to achieve, there is an aggressive quality that is need to simply survive. It often gets the better of us, and that is something that will always trouble me.

The truly remarkable part, given our violent, base tendencies, is how often we do find ways to overcome that. When we are structured to have murder in our hearts, the act of kindness, tenderness, basic decency are all astounding, miraculous achievements.

We are all of us at war with our lesser selves. Our aggression, greed, and petty qualities are sad, but human.

Sometimes we reach for the divine concepts...and touch them.

That's the astounding part to me.