Sunday, August 22, 2010
A Haunting Issue
Ever since I read in National Geographic that fossil-hunters found a 400,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull with a larger brain case than our modern noggins, I've been wondering about that person and the people who surrounded him (I think it was a male).
So far as I remember, sloppy blogger that I am, the entire human race had a common female ancestor who lived about 135,000 years ago. This means that if any DNA from that larger-brained sapiens is in us at all, it's not a thimble-full.
So what do you think these larger-brained people were like, 400,000 years ago? Take away all our stuff, all our techno, and they were probably smarter than we are. Maybe they had enhanced psychic powers.
Maybe they were so intelligent that they were free of hate -- and thus fair game for haters.
Because it does seem to me that much of the goodness we do as a species is counterbalanced by hate, hate, hate. If you have one person, he or she will sit down and write a rant. If you have two people, they will either argue, or they'll agree that the other guy is wrong. If you have three people, at least one of them will be hated by the other two.
Figure this one out. Among the students of my school who are Hispanic, there's a degree of animosity between the Dominicans and the Puerto Ricans. You cannot convince these kids that Dominica and Puerto Rico are two islands, very similar, in a similar part of the world, and after all, the kids themselves all now live in America. Why can't they get along?
In the area where I grew up, Appalachia, there were gangs that fought one another. Go and figure that one out. We all lived in the mountains, but it mattered which mountain and which high school you attended.
So if you take this tendency to hate, and you lard onto it genuine differences in opinion, then your species just will never get along like a happy herd of wildebeests. Even if your species is supposed to be so much more intelligent than wildebeests.
Then we take this tendency to hate, and we lard onto it popular leaders who stoke the hatred with their rhetorical fire, and just look at us now! Makes you long for the Maya to be right about 2012. Turn the planet back over to the ants! They've got it going on.
What do you think? Were those long-ago humans superior to us? Could they have lived in a society free of hate? Are we actually devolving?
Personally I weigh in as at least wishing we knew more about the Big Brains. And less about haters.