Perhaps ancient man is still alive and well in all of us.
Two delightful events have provided the fuel for today’s post which, I warn you, is much more the personal mental ramble than the usual daily post on Learning from Dogs. So, health warning, continue reading at your own risk, or be safe and switch off now!
Before getting in to my perambulations, just a word of thanks to you for your support. Last month, there were 31,291 viewers of Learning from Dogs and 71 of you have chosen to subscribe. I am humbled by your interest. Don’t ever hesitate to give me feedback or, if you prefer, comment to a specific post.
OK, to the theme of today.
On Wednesday I had an enjoyable lunch with a friend from here in Payson, Dennis L. Sitting in the Crosswinds restaurant at Payson airport is one of the most beautiful eating spots in terms of the view from the window. So it’s a very conducive place to relax and try put the world to rights! Conversation ranged across a variety of topics but frequently touched on the lunacy of so many things to do with man, especially when it comes to the government of peoples.
Dennis and I also acknowledged that entering politics with a set of passionate ideals, as we were sure many persons did, would quickly run up against the skein of vested interests that must permeate governments from top to bottom.
That programme underlined, far better than anything else, how governments most probably work in reality.
Dennis and I were clear, as so many millions of other global citizens must be, that the complexity of commerce, politics, national interests, global finance, and more, had created ‘systems’ of decision making that were utterly disconnected with the needs of mankind having a long and stable future on the only finite home around, Planet Earth.
Then today (Thursday), Jean and I attended our regular weekly gardening course at the local college in Payson. Today’s subject was Arizona’s Climate and the tutor, Mike C., was a professional climatologist and meteorologist. It was fascinating, indeed, totally absorbing. Mike’s graphs and slides about the climate, some showing data for the last 1,000 years, underlined the incredible complexity and interconnectedness of the processes that made up the global climate system.
Once again that use of the word ‘complexity’. He confirmed that there was no scientific doubt that the world was warming as a result of changes to the Earth’s atmosphere, science certain most of it is caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.
Mike closed the session with an interesting reflection. He reminded the audience that mankind is still essentially wired, in evolutionary terms, to know how to react to an attacking tiger or similar wild beast, as in the fight or flee response, than know how to deal with such complex, despite intellectually obvious, threats as global climate change, rising sea levels and many other totally unsustainable practices. Mike held the view that only when man had the threat in his face equivalent to that of the attacking tiger would there be a wholesale change.
On the home page of this blog, I write,
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
In the context of homo sapiens, Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”, then we know that modern man, anatomically, originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Modern man only evolved from hunter/gatherer to farmer around 10,000 years ago, a tiny proportion of H. sapiens existence and, in evolutionary terms, no time at all.
The DNA of the domesticated dog separated from that of the wolf around 100,000 years ago. No one knows for sure when man and dog came together but there is archaeological evidence of dogs being buried in mens’ graves around 30,000 years ago. That’s an association over a huge time period.
Dennis and Mike, between them, triggered in my mind something fundamental. Perhaps modern society, with all it’s bizarre behaviours and so many totally illogical practises (especially, in terms of a long-term relationship with our planet), could be understood. Understood from the perspective of our social behaviours, built so much on technology, having raced far on to the point where they are now practically out of sight of our instinctive evolutionary behaviours. We really don’t know how to change those core behaviours.
In contrast, dogs have remained much more stable with regard to their evolutionary progress and their external world. Consider that the last big change for the domesticated dog was the association with man and that is at least three times as long ago as man becoming farming man. No wonder when we curl up with our dog it has echoes of a time thousands of years before we could even spell the word, ‘politician’. Echoes of a stability that seems now so way beyond reach.
And the view from the window of the Crosswinds ……