November 30, 1944. In two weeks I would celebrate my first birthday and my Grandma Grace bought a War Bond in my name. An investment in the “fight for human liberty.” The ROI was to be Peace and Freedom for all. How are we doing?
What if you must choose between FOOD and FREEDOM?
What if you believe you must kill people to be at PEACE?
“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
Last week we saw the new movie Jackie. Overall I was disappointed in the movie, some of the casting, the story line and some other directorial choices, but the acting prowess of Natalie Portman was very impressive. I cannot imagine another actress portraying Jackie so well. Then just yesterday I came across this November 1963 UConn Calendar of events. (I think my mother had held onto it because my father came up to Storrs for Dad’s Day, the first weekend of November.) Twice in one week I was reminded of the moment when I heard of the assassination. On November 22nd, I was a young sophomore walking in front of the Girl’s Gymnasium on the Storrs campus and a small group of students were in a high state of agitation telling passersby that Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.
This book was originally written while he was still a senator. Subsequently, after gaining the presidency, JFK called on Congress to undertake a full reevaluation of immigration law; and he began to revise the book for further publication. In August 1963, excerpts of the 1958 pamphlet were published in the New York Times Magazine. He was assassinated before completing the revision, but the book was published in 1964 with an introduction by his brother, then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. In 2008, the book was re-issued by the Anti-Defamation League. The book contains a short history of immigration, an analysis of the importance of immigration in the country’s history, and proposals to liberalize immigration law. And so it goes. Moment by moment. Each forms the next.
Sex Life of a Rock
That’s right. Stones do it.
In my driveway one morning last week I was approaching the car to head off to the office and froze when I noticed among the white rocks ringing the rose bed that two of them were fighting over a female rock. I was able to capture the brief scuffle of stones on my Samsung Galaxy SIII video, and when I arrived at my office I posted it to YouTube as I had never seen anything quite like it. Believe me; it’s on the internet and going viral, very viral. (Contact me if you’d like the link, and please Like my video. It takes just 102 seconds to view it twice.)
Animal? Vegetable? Or mineral?
Okay, we all know that animals and plants are procreative. They always seem to produce offspring. Nothing new. But minerals? Who knew? After all, why would rocks even want to mate? What could they possibly have to gain? The pitter-patter of precious pebbles? Survival of the species? I don’t think so. Rocks have very long lives. They have only a few serious enemies: water, wind and humans. But the species is in no way threatened with extinction. Nor could it be. No, I think the stones just like to “do it.” It must be one of the greatest pleasures a rock can have. And I presume so only from my limited understanding of how animals and vegetables derive pleasure from the attempt to procreate. Take broccoli, for example.
Okay, we’ll get back to our vegetables later.
Dance. Kiss. Rape.
The same night of the male rocks rivalry I snuck outside around midnight and pulled up a lawn chair next to the rose bushes.
The sky was overcast and the street light had burned out a few days earlier. So it was very dark and I really could not see a thing beyond the faint glow of the decorative, white rocks circling the rose bed. But, with the volume cranked up, my new hearing aids were incredible. They allowed me to detect a low pulsating “woosh..hiss, woosh..hiss.” So I sprawled out prone on the grass and inched closer to the garden. Yes, it was music and it came directly from within the circle of white stones. And I grinned a bit because there’s nothing like the sound of sweet soul music to change a young lady’s mind.
Then I noticed that one of the stones was out of place, about a half-inch outside the circle. It might have been moved by a squirrel or a skunk, but I recognized it as one of the dueling suitors of that morning. Somewhere, the other male stone who won the prize and the attractive agate herself were probably preparing for the peak of passion…the way all rocks do.
But rocks seem to do it only in the dark, when the lights are off…and when geologists are asleep. One can only imagine the foreplay, rocking back and forth, two stones grinding to the music, digging that primitive beat, kissing and raping. Yes, raping. Each raping the other. It’s mutual but not consensual. They are driven to do it; and without brains they have no way to signal Yay or Nay – for consent or refusal – to engage sexually. So rape is the default for minerals.
Whoa! That was a very strange dream.
But it got me thinking about what drives animals to hurt, maim and kill one another. Yes, I am definitely an animal. But I am an animal evolved to self-awareness and introspection, intelligence superior to other animals; making me arrogant. So arrogant, in fact, that I very often forget that I am an animal. Many deny that we are evolved and evolving…demonstrating the ultimate arrogance which has led to unnecessary human suffering. Unlike minerals and broccoli, unlike all other animal species, I have the ability to formulate questions, making me fearful if they are unanswered. We fear the unfamiliar which constitutes unanswered questions. Yet I am also often aware that I am driven by an endless, ageless mesh of hard-wired tendencies like all animals. We are territorial and sexual like all animals, even as we are evolving to being more civilized.
Ants and bees are organized, but they are not civilized. Horses and camels might be domesticated, but they are not civilized.
Civilization is unique to your subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens, because we alone have evolved to be able to observe and analyze our own behaviors, including hard-wired tendencies. And our species has learned to think abstractly and use self-knowledge for the “larger good”; which is what I am doing by sharing these ideas right now.
Why do I often find myself lapsing into denial of my rather obvious connection with the other animals? Why do people’s eyes glaze over when it is suggested we have behaviors based in program elements that were once essential, are still very powerful, but becoming less relevant as Homo sapiens sapiens evolves toward a more civilized society?
Caveat: I accept that our species has developed and changed very slowly, but radically over the last several million years or that Homo erectus were the first hominins to emigrate from Africa, and, from 1.8 to 1.3 million years ago, the species spread through Africa, Asia, and Europe. (The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is over 500 million years old.) And I believe what scientists have demonstrated, that one population of Homo erectus remained in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens, and that Homo sapiens sapiens is the only remaining sub-species of Homo sapiens, since Homo sapiens idaltu became extinct around 100,000 years ago. Are we together on this?
If, on the other hand, you trust in the notion that these scientific findings are all balderdash, you might consider selecting new reading material or other form of learning with which you agree. For example, if one asserts that our planet was created by or populated by a supreme being or god less than a million years ago, it may be difficult to fully grasp the ensuing content. Truly.
Deny. By denying that we are not yet as civilized as we will become, we retard evolution. I am not saying that such retarding is “bad” for future generations as they evolve. After all, we are evolving, not revolting. “Slowly” by today’s human standards. There is “no rush.” But – yes, here is my BIG BUT – by denying my own power in evolutionary momentum I rob myself and the people around me of my personal best – during our tiny 80-year lifespan. If that were the only problem in such denial, my writing might stop…right…here «·»
But, ignorance is a vacuum. If there is something we don’t know, something else will be sucked in to fill the void. Unfortunately, there are many human beings who perpetrate and perpetuate numerous malicious ramifications of denying or ignoring our potential roles in evolution. For some of our species ignorance of this concept contributes to license for behaviors such as murder and mayhem, war and suffering, savagery and brutality, slavery and rape, barbarity and mercilessness, subjugation and annihilation. Not surprisingly, all of this is often categorized as “inhumanity.”
Why the label “inhumanity?” Perhaps it is because these behaviors are found in other animals, and we expect humans to behave differently. So, why would anyone expect humans to act differently than other animals?
I believe that we expect different behavior from humans because we focus on the differences.
And we are VERY different from other species. We are obviously superior in so many ways. We eat other animals, even the largest ones. Some people eat the smart ones. And some eat only vegetables. We create highly developed languages, intricate artistic and architectural projects, complex systems of learning and inquiry. But the obvious or most clearly observed is not always definitive or even most relevant. What about the traits and behaviors that are not so obvious…the similarities. While I may deny that I am an animal, I walk the planet toting the same base instincts and tendencies as many other species both extant and extinct. Am I loathe to admit it? Do I feel shame to acknowledge this? Am I more comfortable acknowledging the differences between myself and other primates? Or even between me and the zebras?
What Do We Know? In a brief article describing an incident in which a little boy fell into the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla habitat and was dragged around by a male gorilla it was written that the primate was shot and killed. However, the writer did not state which primate was shot – the boy or the ape.
Now, an important question leaps out at us: why does one human lead an entire life of peace and giving while another leads a life of malevolence and taking? Or, why can one person overcome base tendencies while another appears incapable of so doing? Why did U.S. President William Clinton do what he did with a young White House intern? Why did U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas engage in alleged sexual advances and innuendos with female colleagues? Why did U.S. President Jimmy Carter “look at a lot of women with lust”? After all, these are highly advanced creatures, right? Were they not keenly aware in general and specifically of the human condition? Were they not well educated? We might respond, “Who cares? No harm done.” And ‘we’ are more likely males.
“Our current politics are grounded in the social structure of primate bands in which alphas gain and hold power, and then use that power to control resources such as food and female reproduction. In more complex forms, we see the same thing in most human hunter-gatherer bands, in which our ancestors lived for 95% of the past 200,000 years. With the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, wealth and power became even more concentrated in the hands of a few, enabling them to support warriors to enforce their rule and priests to justify it.”
Of course, the “alphas” were males among most mammals and especially among primates.
Accepting that we can each play a positive role in the evolving of the Homo genus can actually lead to a better humanity even while we are still living our short lives.
But acceptance requires a foundation of belief which may or may not have footings of knowledge. One will not accept what one does not believe. Yet many of us believe what we do not know, which means that many of us accept what we do not know. This kind of belief is called faith.
Beliefs are where we start, but beliefs can change – usually by replacing ignorance with knowledge. And by replacing assumptions with facts. Knowing the things that I am sharing here has altered my life and can redirect the lives of others.
My belief is based on knowledge.
For example, Homo erectus were the first hominins to emigrate from Africa, and, from 1.8 to 1.3 million years ago, the species spread through Africa, Asia, and Europe. One population of Homo erectus remained in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens. The Earth is over 4-billion years old while some of the water on our planet is even older than that – outdating our Sun!
 Why am I so confident in writing “your subspecies?” Because you are reading this and not one of the remaining 8.7-million species in the animal kingdom can read.
 Find the Facts, Rick Hanson, Ph.D., November 5, 2016
Just four examples of inventions that work for you: