A Story of Humanity and Civilization
Sometimes I can’t sleep. My mind whirls around, jumping from one thing to the next, sometimes so fast it scares me and I have to open my eyes to stare at the blackness of my room. Viewing the world in distinct categories, I end up feeling overwhelmed because there is too much to keep track of. When my mind finally relaxes, the artificial distinctions I use to categorize the world dissolve, and it is all revealed to be One.
After seeing this story about a man who will retrace humankind’s migration out of Africa, my mind started making connections and drawing all sorts of things from ecopsychology, paleo, and warrior empowerment.
This is the story that developed. I present it to you with only minor edits for clarity. I don’t know if there is any truth in it (it’s theoretical fiction). I don’t even know if I agree with the concluding sentiment, specifically the possible interpretation of an “us vs. them” mentality. But it affected me strongly, and I felt others might relate.
As humans left Africa, they came to comfortable river valleys. Some stayed and created a way of life that freed them from the trials of hunter-gatherers, at the price of connection to the world and of their courage. They gave up their potential in exchange for security, and called it civilization: the great back-up, the safety net that allows billions of people to be mediocre because they don’t have to be exceptional to survive.
The rest packed up and walked on, knowing that to be truly human was to face the unknown, to brave new lands, and to live such that only great care and great potency of spirit would ensure survival. They refused to compromise the quality of their being for guaranteed safety.
But of all humans, the tribes could accept that life wasn’t always fair. The settled ones had always been among them, softer individuals in their ranks. So once civilization had a foothold, it could always appeal to some elements in the tribes that stuck to the old ways. The Devil’s bargain–safety for mediocrity–tore us apart, and then destroyed the hold-outs.
But just as there were weak links among the tribes, so too are there diamonds in the rough, individuals who hear the calling to demand more than the security offered by a tamed society. We are a threat, by definition, so society has built-in mechanisms to suppress us or distract us with worldly and material success, but we are also the only cure for a civilization sick with complacency. We must realize we are a bitter medicine, but a necessary one, and we cannot be diverted from our quest. We are the warriors and heroes, who defend the souls of our families, our tribes, and our communities. And our quest is nothing less–and nothing more–than the fate of humanity’s soul.