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Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Little History On Exclusionary Traits

Recently I was doing a little light reading on the evolution of mankind through the ages. It’s something that I do occasionally to remind myself exactly how the hell we got to where we are. I read a passage that stated that when early man learned how to cultivate crops and started living a more stationary life instead of being nomadic, he soon learned that he had a “very real and immediate need for walls”. He needed these walls to protect his food stores from the people who were still hunter/gatherers and were prone to stealing the food. These developments took place somewhere in the neighborhood of 8000 BCE to 2500 BCE. Now, I guess these prehistoric, yet culturally advanced types were unfamiliar with social programs because they weren’t very keen on sharing. So, up went the walls and the exclusionary, “I worked for mine, screw you guys, go away” attitude was born.

Now, no matter which side of the fence you are on, concerning social aid, it should be obvious that if you work a farm, dig in the dirt and manage to get something edible to grow, you are not going to want some bunch of transient savages just wandering in there and helping themselves to the fruits of your labor, so you build storehouses and put up walls to protect what’s yours. If there’s one thing that we all know is that, if you give people something for nothing, they have no incentive to end that relationship. As a matter of fact, some of the recipients of your generosity will start to feel entitled to those handouts and demand them. As a result, the people who work the farm have to work harder to feed not only their own people, but also the people who show up and say, “Hey, look at all that food you folks have, give us some.” That does not sound like a very rewarding existence. Sure, it may make you feel better to help people who don’t have as much as you do in the beginning, but once you realize that they are camped outside your gates, just lollygagging around while you are toiling away in the fields, it gets old. Some may be willing to join in and help with the labor but you are going to have those who see themselves as deserving of the rewards without the work. Perhaps they even see themselves as providing a service, as in, “We’re doing you a favor. Give us the food and we’ll make sure that your village doesn’t burn to the ground in the middle of the night.”

More liberal-minded people may be offended by some of this but facts speak for themselves. If you think that these exclusionary traits are strictly human you need to understand that our primitive cousins, the lovable chimpanzees, engage in their own “land wars”. According to a Discovery News article dated June 21, 2010, “Chimpanzees, our closest primate relatives, engage in war-like behavior to gain territory, new research finds.” The article goes on to say, “The findings, published in the latest issue of Current Biology, explain why chimpanzees sometimes brutally kill their neighbors. The killings are most often done by patrolling packs of male chimps that are "quiet and move with stealth," according to lead author John Mitani of the University of Michigan.  To the victors go similar spoils of early human wars: land, often-improved security and strength, extra food and resources, and even better access to females.”

The article goes on to describe infanticide, cannibalism and several other charming activities. All in the name of conquest and survival. I am fairly certain that as soon as our earliest ancestors discovered that a skull can be severely compromised with a rock, differences of opinions have been settled that way. I wonder if anyone has ever had to say, “Rocks don’t kill people, people with rocks kill people”.

Don't even think about it
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