Sometimes I worry that we’re at risk of succumbing to our own arrogance as a species. A quick history …
In primitive times, just after we lost our prehensile tails, our humility was ensured by our constant flight from marauding carnivores, droughts, floods, and rampaging cannibals. A recent article in The Guardian claims that it was in this period of our development that mankind achieved its pinnacle of intelligence, which explains to some degree our subsequent decline as a species.
Then barricades and armor were invented but, alas, so was tyranny and we became serfs, peons, slaves, and crew members. Then the arrogant French hoi polloi invented human rights and the guillotine, and tyrannies began to fall like heads.
Later capitalism was invented – along with exploitation. In response, we invented unions and got uppity ourselves.
Over the course of history, our pernicious liberalizing tendency bloomed like blue-green algae in a farm pond. As the idea of educating the masses took hold, somebody read somewhere that when Greeks weren’t prancing around naked in a pretense of athleticism and other things – golf and golf-apparel hadn’t been invented yet – they were busy inventing democracy, making everyone seem to be equal, even though they weren’t.
Religious zealots seeking relief from other religious zealots in their homelands sailed to America and resurrected the idea of democracy and America was born, as was a new generation of religious zealots.
Early on, we Americans were kept humble by playground bullies, corporal punishment, schoolmarms, fire-breathing ministers, and bankers. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, we began to feel our oats and declared our right to say and smoke whatever we wanted, wear bad clothing and have bad hair days.
Today, we’ve extended our human rights to corporations, apparently thinking they have the same physiology as humans. They can now speak like us and buy whatever they want, including politicians, scientists, and journalists. Business is finally “free to be me” as the annoying kid’s song goes.
This new freedom has made us invincible, we think, and when things run contrary to plan, someone must be blamed. Hurricanes, floods, epidemics, and accidents are now commonly answered by a law suit.
Predicting end times has grown popular again and we have become arrogant – denying science and even exit-polls. Our new parity with corporations makes us feel invincible.
For millennia, nature ensured our humility, but we’re beyond that now. So I quite understand the outcries of blame generated by hurricane Sandy … the lawsuits of those unhappy with their health care outcomes … and the newly invented psychological disorders and drugs prescribed for students failing in our educational systems.
But who will we blame for death?
Less advanced cultures always seem bemused by our shock and anger when we are told we are going to die. Surely there is a pill or procedure! Surely the Pharma gods can find a cure.
Perhaps our survivors will invent a way to sue for an “act of God or nature.”