Ten-Thousand Years in The Makin’
by Andy Joppa
…a few decades in the breakin’
Humanity is a puny species. It is this “puniness” that required us to develop a larger mental capacity. This increased capacity is not a sign of our superiority but, rather, our general physical inferiority. How so?
Each species develops characteristics that enable it to survive and, hence, perform its most important evolutionary function…reproduction. Early human life forms had no killing talons or claws. They weren’t strong nor fast. They couldn’t fly nor swim…at least as well as the shark that was chasing them. They were little more than prey in a world where they were surrounded by predators. Under that pressure the human brain increased in size and capacity as a survival mechanism. It is all we had going for us.
This increased capacity enabled us to become tool makers, and we became increasing adept at problem solving merely as the result of a thinking process that was removed from the actual moment of experience. In, other words, we could contemplate and plan. At that point we became superior (this does not mean better than…but only more than), not only by capacity but with the added ingredient of what can be called “being reasoned.”
As we became the increasingly dominant life form on the planet a harsh reality began to emerge. This new, larger capacity, tool making, reasoned brain, had no constraints…no governing mechanisms that moved it toward, what we might call, moral positions. In its earliest form this morality consisted of little more than gaining an understanding that there was more to be contemplated than the satisfaction gained at the precise moment of behavioral choice. There was also the village…the clan…the tribe.
As the eons passed those that protected their tribe had a greater chance of passing on their genetic makeup than those that didn’t. Three first cousins will have more of your genetic marker potential than you do. So, this willingness to commit to the well being of the village served a very distinct evolutionary benefit for those making the “sacrifice.” Their genes survived even if they didn’t.
The question now became one of using the larger capacity brain for the purpose of the village, while allowing for the understanding and utilization of moral constraints, using reasoned positions, while simultaneously supplying the materials for physical survival. That is quite a mouthful. I believe; however, it identifies accurately what we have spent 10,000 years trying to get right.
Since humanity was a species in the making, during that 10,000 years, there were countless errors and mis-directions. We could judge the success of a bird by its unlimited capacity to land on a branch. We could judge the success of a shark by its consistently successful hunting skills. Humanity had to be judged on its consistently applied use of reason to achieve the satisfaction of the needs of, and protection of, the tribe…the country…the nation.
After countless struggles, the year 1776 became the high-water mark for the progress that had been labored over for the past 10,000 years. In that year, Adam Smith published his Wealth of Nations and the colonial founders of America put to pen their Declaration of Independence. In that year…we had arrived.
Humanity, with full knowledge of past failures, had authored a moral economic treatise and a moral governmental treatise in which inalienable rights were guaranteed. What had to be done from that point was to merely apply the wisdom that these documents had bestowed.
To the extent we recognize Smith’s free market system and the concepts of freedom subsequently enshrined in our Constitution we can never wander far from the path of success that these words gave us. Both were the finest manifestations of our 10,000-year struggle.
Of course, since 1776, we have often wandered very far from that path. As long, however, as both stood as a beacon to be returned to, we could maintain our inexorable movement forward. A two-step forward, one-step backward type of model…but always moving one step ahead. That has been true till the advent of the 21st century. Without a specific date I’ll merely say the decades of this century.
In these decades we’ve seen our greatest accomplishments from 1776 totally eviscerated. The free market system of Smith had been rejected as there is movement backward in time to economic systems that would have pleased Darius of Persia or Octavius of Rome. Systems designed and controlled by the state…mostly for the benefit of the state and its elite leaders at the very top. Call this what you will but it is undeniably a retreat backward to less fertile time for the fulfillment of individual lives.
In a like manner we have seen the words of The Declaration put to scorn, as are the freedoms enshrined in, and guaranteed by, The Constitution. Both of these being replaced by the whimsical actions of totalitarian, or near totalitarian, governments. Once again, Darius and Octavius would have been pleased to see their authoritarian models once again being accepted…being lauded.
Those offering these changes tell you they are agents of our future. It is increasingly clear that they are little more than agents of the human past. A past that we have labored for 10,000 years to overcome. They have taken every measured source of human failure, packaged it in new words, and presented this already rotten meal to us as if it were just baked today. Hardly… it was long ago putrid. The fact that it’s being “cooked” with modern technology does not make it any the more appetizing.