TimeJune 11, 2010 at 9:29 AM | Posted in Cultural Evolution | Leave a comment
Populations that have, to a significant degree, conquered the diseases caused by infectious agents that gained a foothold in sedentary civilizations during the agricultural revolution are now plagued by diseases caused by chronic stress: arthritis, diabetes, depression, atherosclerosis, heart failure, drug addiction, obesity, and alcoholism among others. People spend too much time indoors, playing video games, watching TV, surfing the internet, putting on weight. Too little sunshine, too many calories, too little physical activity, too little thought. People are trapped in a world, really a worldview, that simultaneously presents too many obstacles and too few challenges. It’s a world that can’t be navigated in a straightforward manner. It’s a world that isn’t fair, in the sense that it’s leveraged by powerful elites to their own ends. It’s become a world where cheating and hoarding are often rewarded, and the best cheats, the best manipulators, the highest-functioning sociopaths, end up garnering the most power, the most leverage. And in the modern world, power begets power. Those with it, get it. And they aren’t about to relinquish it. In the modern world, a typical person doesn’t exert much control over their own lives. They don’t know how. They haven’t been taught how to. In the modern world, steep social hierarchies are the new norm, unnatural and crippling though they may be for a species that long ago evolved an egalitarian psyche. Autonomy is paramount to the human soul, and the lack of autonomy in contemporary cultures is a problem for which there is no apparent solution. In modern societies, personal autonomy and cooperation with others, in opposition to those who would strip people of their humanity, are disparaged by the cultural elites, at least for those who aren’t among the power elites. These people, cogs really,modern serfs, are expected to pass their time in quiet desperation. The result: severe, chronic psychological and physical stress. In such circumstances, it’s not surprising that people turn to drugs, alcohol, religion, video games, sugar, fat and irrational ideologies. It deadens the pain. Unfortunately, it also desensitizes people to the culture of death that currently prevails. Will we waken to our true circumstances? Will we ever reclaim our humanity? Is there time?