There is a proper way to be a rattlesnake, an armadillo, or a Polar bear, but is there a proper way to be human? A child must learn to be a member of a culture within the confines set by family and society, even if those terms are unhealthy or grotesque.
It takes one or more adults to introduce social requirements. When people live in small groups, it is likely that each child will receive clear instruction on becoming an adult, even if his or her parents don’t survive. We know this to be true: anthropology books are stuffed with myths, rituals, laws and practices that describe, for a particular group, exactly how to be a human being. Rituals throughout the year, and those that mark life’s transitions, are considered to be sacred and unchanging.
No single way of being human has emerged as the winner, but the battle for supremacy rages on. After thousands of years of existence, one perfect Homo sapiens culture has yet to be defined. Thousands of human groups have been absorbed, reduced, or annihilated by other groups, a process that is ongoing as “globalization” obliterates cultural boundaries.
It is obvious that diversity is not a modern human value.
As Homo sapiens spread across the planet, grew in number, and “ran into” other branches of our species, challenges occurred over what it means to be human. The condition of incessant bickering and fighting throughout known history, between political, religious, economic an cultural groups, indicates that disharmony and aggression are here to stay. The original “human” template that directs our behavior, would seem to have been lost.
The religious notion that instinct is a dangerous threat to moral behavior is a tragic flaw in human thinking.
Our remote ancestors operated on instinct. If we aren’t instinctual beings today, where did instinct go, and why did we loose such a successful system? Not sort of successful, but overwhelmingly successful throughout the animal kingdom.
The expense of cutting off mankind from nature forces us to examine ourselves from the strange perspective of a creature utterly alone in the universe. Contemporary investigations into when we “became human” often begin with this isolated, top-down view, which is rooted in the invalid assumption that our species is the goal of evolution or God’s design: those two concepts are the same.
Scientists look to isolated tribal peoples for clues as to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors may have been like, but today’s Homo sapiens is the descendant of the humans who eliminated by murder or reproductive annihilation anyone who was “in the way.” Ruthless Homo sapiens not only survived, but went on to conquer the planet: brutal, self-centered and driven to remove all obstacles, including other groups of humans, especially hunter-gathers. Contemporary social humans were not people, who, for whatever reason, stagnated in marginal environments. Our ancestors murdered their way to power.
Within recorded history we see that modern humans view most of the people they encounter as subhuman or as direct relatives of monkeys, gorillas or other wild animals. There has been great profit and power generated by the simple propaganda that individuals who are the same species, but who show variation in physical appearance or religious practice, are fair game for predation.
At the same time, “ownership” of dead or conquered cultures, people who can’t protest or refute the myths written by archaeologists and anthropologists, are exterminated twice, using the magic of words of pseudoscientific interpretation. What we know about non-modern people is tainted by the peculiar belief that archaeologists and anthropologists have magical insight into the brains that filled the fragments of broken skulls.
If ancient people had been as confused about their world as their myths (and ours) suggest, they would not have survived a single generation. Although initiated by actual people and events, to be useful, myth must be stripped down to talking points that remain, no matter how irrational the story is after generations of repetition.
Does a base map or template exist within the human brain, about which we are unaware, but which directs our behavior just the same? What we experience as intuition may occur when pictures, symbols, or uncanny feelings arise unbidden from our instinctual (unconscious) memories and reactions. The human ‘sixth sense’ is instinct speaking from the deep wisdom of nature that is shared by all animals and is not the product of magic words that modern social people believe describe reality.
Words, however useful, are a barrier between our brain and our understanding of the brain.
Overdependence on word concepts has left us bereft of our animal thought processes.
The modern human animal demonstrates special attributes, and among these is an incessant obsessive focus on ourselves. We possess an incredible will to force our beliefs not only on each other, but onto the universe. An infantile need for attention activates our big brains. It is a need that cannot be calmed for long.