The last couple of days, I have been reading Prof. Harari’s book, Sapiens. The book has a bold agenda: to hold the history of mankind within mere hundreds of pages. From my reading so far I feel it is a great narrative.
The trigger for my interest in human history rose with the recent policy changes in the company with respect to timings and food, etc. It is amazing how corporations can change rules without the consent of the majority/any of employees. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that private companies are merely tools of profit-making. We are living in a capitalist world where profit-making drives our economy. So much so that it has had detrimental effect on the society time and again. That got me to thinking, what are world leaders and thinkers thinking about capitalism: where does it stand today? Are we gonna move away from the clutches of capitalism anytime soon? Are there any alternatives for the global socio-politico-economic system?
In general, when we seek answers, we look back in the past for explanations. That seemed like the natural course for me too. I had been watching multiple videos on Youtube, which led me to Prof. Harari.
From my reading so far, my key takeaways have been:
- There are no fixed natural rules that apply to man/Sapiens – I have often heard how men are meant to be polygamous by nature. It is not true. Homo sapiens have evolved across multiple continents, in various tribes and bands. They have evolved in multiple ways where each chose a way of living, a culture to co-exist together. These variations are so many that we cannot possibly posit that there are only certain (right/natural) behaviors that a man can exhibit.
- Human beings have had detrimental effect on biological ecosystem even in ancient history, so the 19th-21st century mankind are not the only generation to be blamed for climate change or diminishing flora and fauna. If Harari is to be believed, humans had a distinctive role to play in the extinction of the Australian megafauna, which contained many marsupials that are not walking the continent today. Similar was the case in America
- It is our stories that has made mankind the potent super species in the world – The day human beings started to spin stories (which might have started as gossip between two people) is the day when humans rose from just another species in the ecosystem to a formidable one. You don’t expect a dog to talk behind another dog. Or, tell tales about some god that has a dog’s body (and maybe a human face?). That is because probably man is the only one who can create imagined reality. It is this quality that drives millions of men and women to fight for a common cause and create a big impact. Imagine any other species being able to do so; it will be utter chaos.
While I feel proud that for humankind, (I am someone who is a strong proponent of science and technology), I cannot but feel sorry for what we have done to this Earth. Today, we are worried about AI and robots rupturing economies taking away jobs. We are making fast progress in making our machines smarter, to the point that we don’t know how it will affect us in the next 20 years. When I think about it, I see a clear parallel in what happened in the world thousands of years ago as Homo sapiens came to rule to planet. Human beings got smarter than any of the living creatures on Earth, and the ecosystem had no time to adjust itself to the same. Similarly, we are on a fast track of development and we probably have no control over what our creations will do to us in the recent future.
As scary as the future is, I am glad I was born in a time that will evidence this change. I am proud of what we have achieved and what we can achieve more, and I hope that a large part of it will go towards undoing all the bad things we have done to the Earth.
What do you think? Does the future scare you? Are you glad you are living on the Earth in this century? If given a chance, which time period in history would you like to be born in?