No one can deny that the times they are a-changin’. They are changing in every corner of economic, sociologic, religious and psychologic areas. Mariner is a gardener and he relates cultural change in human societies to the seasonal cycle of plants, birds, insects and mammals of all sizes. What all these living things have in common is that Mother Nature is a bitch – it’s her way or the highway and often she makes the choice herself.
From a less extreme perspective, humans are unique among the flora and fauna and as such can manipulate Mother Nature (MN) just a bit. MN notices but is tolerant for a while until things obviously aren’t going her way. At first MN sits and smirks as humans pretend they are independent of their own biological place in her environment. Perhaps she hopes that humans will learn their place in the larger reality of things but alas, they never do. Humans have this disorder called hubris (excessive pride and self-importance).
Today, humans are in disarray, in conflict with MN and dismissive of the behavioral rules of the human species. To varying degrees most of today’s humans hoard if they can. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. Anthropologists have identified a characteristic in Homo sapiens that differentiated them from Neanderthals – H. sapiens was able to construct multiple roles for members of a small group which in turn generated more resources. Further, the rules for sharing reflected the amount of resources available. Had an individual hoarded in the face of group need, they would have been driven from the group and possibly killed according to primitive, H. sapiens roles of behavior. So in one sentence we can make a generalization about economics: If the rules aren’t fair, H. sapiens is going to take umbrage. That’s how MN designed her primates. That is a brief explanation why most industrialized nations are having difficulty with their citizenry.
It is also the reason why many humans are promoting the idea of income distribution that is, in over simplified terms, taxing the wealthy class to redistribute GDP to lower income classes. Whether governments can rein in corporate profits is the battlefield.
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Sociologically speaking, behavior didn’t change much in the good old days. The good old days ran from 90,000 years ago until electricity was invented in 1600 and combustion was harnessed around 1800. Before those dates, humans were permitted to toy with seven tools: lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. There were simpler tools like the rock but the advantage of a rock can be distributed among the seven tools depending on how one uses it. The most significant change in the good old days was the enslavement of animals like horses and water buffalo. Still, the animals had to make do operating a lever, wheel and axle, pulley, screw, wedge, and inclined plane. This was fine with MN because the energy still came from H. sapiens or other MN creations. To quote Tennessee Ernie Ford, “muscle and blood and skin and bones, a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.” Or to quote Pete Seeger,
“The man that invented the stream drill
Thought he was mighty fine,
But John Henry made fifteen feet;
The steam drill only made nine. Lord, Lord.”
Alas, John Henry died and the glory of human capacity was forever diminished by combustion. How we measure our worth changed, ergo our social values changed and changed and changed ever more rapidly as H. sapiens forgot its MN roots and sought existence beyond primate reality. The path of combustion has been rude to MN. Beginning around 1850, humans began interfering with MN’s environment. She has noticed.
Manner often has pondered that the popularity of sports is because of a deep desire to have one’s value based on genuine human capacity – like John Henry.
Continued in the next post.