Friday, September 11, 2015

never mind the bones

Yesterday, the breaking news was that paleontologists have made an astonishing discovery about mankind's ancestors.

 I've always been fascinated by paleontology and archaeology; but this morning, while pondering this news, it occurred to me that finding out that our distant, ancient relatives buried their dead is hardly a groundbreaking discovery that will change our perception of who we are.

Why don't we discover why we are selfish? 

Why we murder each other? 

Why we fight wars?  

Why aren't all of our scientists, sociologists, politicians, and leaders fascinated with answers to these questions, and solutions for these deficiencies? Human beings seem to be eternally fixated on either digging up the past, or dreaming about the future. The immediate moment, when we actually could affect things that are taking place, becomes the subject of endless argument instead of practical action... I hate to burst everyone's bubble, but a bunch of dry bones deep in a cave aren't going to change the trajectory that mankind is on, in any way, shape, or form.

We ought, as creatures, to be able to do much better than we do — we are excited about all the wrong things and fascinated with all the wrong questions. I think that if we ever managed, as a society, to take an objective look at how we are right now—never mind the bones the results would horrify us far more than we claim they horrify us as we glance briefly, and then look away. 

It reminds me of the subject of yesterday's post, which discussed the need for me to suffer myself in order to understand anything.  I'm in the inner habit of exploring my past — creeping around in tiny, dark caves inside myself and then returning triumphantly to the surface with a scrap of bone, claiming that it represents a revelation of one kind or another. 

It may be far more profitable for me to stay here in the light, seeing what is actually going on right now, than believing my past will really shed any major light on who I am, or why I behave the way I do. 

It is today that needs to change — not yesterday.


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