Where did we go wrong? What is wrong with us as a species?
Doomers spend a lot of time contemplating whether our certain doom was “baked in” so to speak, whether homo sapiens are programmed to self-destruct. Was it DNA? Tool use?
At least one person believes that our fate was sealed with the control of fire. That takes us back to homo hablis, at least, and I believe there is evidence that Australopithecines used fire. That works out to homo sapiens being fucked even before we evolved. That offends my sense of justice, I guess, so I don’t accept this point of view.
Probably the most popular theory is that the move from hunter/gatherer to the Neolithic and agriculture is what sealed our fate. Cities (and thus civilization) become possible with agriculture and populations increase dramatically. That started around 10,000 BCE and slowly spread until established around the world by 5,000 BCE. At 5,000 BCE, there were cities and states but the world was still predominately hunter/gatherer.
Writing, though, was invented around 3400 BCE when Sumerians developed written symbols.
Leonard Shlain, in his book, “The Alphabet versus the Goddess”, makes a compelling case that writing is what speeded up, in fact, required the death of the feminine and started us on course to revering all that is male. His book is worth the time and money, so I won’t repeat it here, but he notes the physiological changes in our brains when we “progress” from seeing images to reading words in a linear manner. He incorporates chemistry, culture, religion and history to make his argument that writing gave rise to misogyny and patriarchy and that is what set us on our path to destruction. Okay, he may not have said that last point, but I am.
If hominids emerged from a branch between chimpanzees and bonobos, it would make sense that we would carry both characteristics of these primates. Chimps are territorial, aggressive, and patriarchal, with one dominant chimp running things.
Bonobos are fun loving, sexual, family oriented, matriarchal and nurturing.
The first modern humans, the Cro-Magnon, left Africa around 100,000 years ago, moving into the Fertile Crescent and Europe and spreading out from there. They left us Chauvet, Lascaux, and many other caves, along with many artifacts of their lives. Evidence points to Goddess or Mother Earth worship.
Many cultures were matrilineal and matriarchal from this point. They stayed in balance with the earth. For thousands and thousands of years.
As we approach Easter, an original pagan holiday celebrating the return of the sun, the return to fertility and plenty, it behooves us to remember that the Old Testament, the first book written, was written to stamp out Goddess worship, to deny the feminine, and to forever keep us out of balance with the earth. It gave us a sky god that needs no female to reproduce, that is, in fact, jealous of the female capacity to give life, and demanded that people tolerate no other beliefs or practices. It gave us dominion.
Inquisitions and witch burning got the message across.
All of which brings me to the original point of being doomed. We are born to die. Everything is, of course.
But now, when I see or hear comments like, “we’re ruining the planet” (and I know, I’ve said it myself), I immediately think, “what’s this we shit, kimosabe?”
If there are no female Picassos or DaVincis, there are also no female Attila the Huns or Genghis Khans.
And as we move forward from 3400 BCE to present day, we can say the same of males of color. As Derrick Jensen points out in “The Culture of Make Believe”, one must conform and identify with White (a capital W) culture prior to being allowed into the power elite. I wish he would have gone one step further. It’s the White Male Culture that is so destructive. If you have not been born white and male, you have to enthusiastically endorse White Male Culture before being allowed into the bastions of power. Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Michael Steele, Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Marco Rubio are all excellent examples of this….all are White Males working to keep the oligarchy functioning, to keep the destruction going and to keep civilization (conquest abroad, repression at home) afloat.
Take patriarchal civilization out of the equation, and I think the future looks very different than the one we face today.