HARD TO IMAGINE

Humans soaring through the evening sky

Humans soaring through the evening sky.

 

“After a million or more years of little change and no potential for anything more advanced than the hunting societies at the close of the Pleistocene, a shift occurred, both to a new economic base and to a new social unit, which within 5,000 years led to the appearance of urban civilization in at least a few nuclear areas. This shift was the dawn of the day in which we ourselves are living, since the farming pattern of life established at that time is still the basis of our existence today and has undergone no fundamental change…Just why such a development should have occurred at this time we don’t know….No existing explanation for the cause for this crucial shift to food production is satisfactory. Environment seems ruled out. The mere presence of suitable species for domestication is not in itself sufficient to bring it about.  And the profound psychological shift which would have to take place from the short-term viewpoint of the hunter to the long-term outlook of the farmer and herdsman makes the shift even more difficult to explain.” pp.181-187 Man in Prehistory by Chester S. Chard © McGraw 1969

“…but altogether we are in a transition period on a scale such as no society has ever encountered. None of our social organizations are prepared to deal with changes on such a scale.  The result is that we may oscillate, or we may destroy ourselves, or we may reach a high level steady state….It will be a new form of society, totally different as a new species, if we survive.”  p. 151 CETI  © 1972 by Carl Sagan

 

“You could barely make him out as he stood there in the darkness silhoutted against the evening sky, but if you looked closely you could see his features and his outline against the fading sunset.  The smooth forehead, the protruding jaw, the intelligent inclination of his head; he would look very normal to us.  In fact, if we were to see him in a crowd and properly dressed, there would be nothing in his appearance to indicate that he lived over ten thousand years ago. And the world that lay around him then in the early evening would be almost indistinguishable from the natural world as we know it now.

He was  a Human being no different than any one of us.  He had the same basic physical attributes, and somewhere in the recesses of his large mind he shared the same capacities we all share.  They were few in numbers, then.  He, and his family of Homo Sapiens he belonged to, were scattered very, very sparsely over the Earth.

They led very hard lives.  Once disease found them, there was little they could do.  they died in countless and agonizing ways that we can only wonder at today.  But they were still Human…

Behind him lay, stretched in mute heritage to him,  the birth of language, the gentle beginnings of continuous female receptivity to sex and the natural selection for the birth of large brained and helpless infants that would eventually lead to the establishment of family and marriage as we know them today.  Somewhere in his shadowy past were the first awkward attempts at making the chipped stone tools,– and fire, its warmth and salvation, was conquered long before he took his first breath and suckled at his mother’s breast.  His remote ancestors had gathered into tribes ages ago, and the lessons and advantages of social control and co-operation were part of the very foundation of his life now…

And most of all, from the graves and the bones of those early Humans and the trinkets, tools and weapons placed around their dead in forlorn hope; we modern Humans stumbled upon the first tangible evidence in all of the history of Humankind that Human beings were beginning to care for one another.  It was in the early graves of those like this watcher in the dark that we discovered the birth of Human love…

We know that the relatively short step to this modern world was inevitable for him and all his descendants.  The unbelievable and unimaginable creations of the 20th Century lay ahead of him, now only a mere ten thousand or so years in the future…

…The subtle psychological changes that made Humanity develop from the concept of coping more and more expertly WITH the environment, to the completely different concept of exercising increasing control OVER the environment indicate vision and understanding of a much more complicated idea than seeds, seasons or domestication.

And this simple man, as he stood there gazing balefully into the gathering night, was beginning to understand and envision this subtle, precise mental concept that would eventually serve as the pole star of Humanity for astounding success on Earth in centuries and centuries to follow…

It would take generations and generations of these curious people wondering placidly at the evening sky night after night. And slowly, like the gentle, silent and incessant accumulation of layer upon layer of sediment that great rivers carry and lay down before they gain the sanctuary of the wide open sea; steadily building a huge and expansive alluvial plain over the centuries; Humankind was fashioning an astounding idea. And each generation would add its perfecting insights, until finally the complete total dream stood there.  And it stood there unnoticed beside those evolving Humans, until its presence became so normal, so common, so much a real part of  Humanity, that it seemed to have always been there. It became something much stronger than an idea.

It became a way of thought.”

Introduction  YES! (SOON)  1975 (unpublished) by James L. Anderson

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