Darwin’s Failed Species
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
– Charles Darwin
Regardless of whether you embrace the Theory of Evolution, the creationist Theory of Intelligent Design or some combination of both, the simple reality it that life changes daily and those species that will not only survive but will thrive are those that can learn to adapt to that change.
Humanity has demonstrated repeatedly that it lacks both the ability and the will to adapt.
We are a species of advanced intelligence capable of developing technology that was undreamed of a mere fifty years ago and yet incapable of learning from our mistakes. For all of the smart phones, iGadgets and other technological marvels, we are not very much different from societies that disappeared a thousand years ago.
Our politics are as failed and corrupt and our governments as inefficient and ineffective as those of empires come and gone. Our spirituality is as shallow as those who once worshipped rocks and our prejudices are predicated on beliefs that too often have no relationship to fact.
Life is as cheap today as it has ever been in history and nothing is cheaper to us than the lives of others – especially the lives of those we fear, hate or with whom we violently disagree.
We have not learned to resolve our disputes and disagreements without resorting to anger and violence. We rely on the mentality of the mob as much today as at any point in history. We align ourselves in tribes – herds based on ideology, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and age and we allow ourselves to be led by the shepherds of despair who seek privileged position by dividing us and playing to our fears and fueling our anger.
We are angry because, like those who lived centuries before us, we are afraid.
We are afraid of the truth when it contradicts what we want to believe. We demand justice with no concept of what constitutes justice and resist Internet regulation with claims of censorship with no understanding of the word.
We are suspicious of everything except those who would deliberately mislead us with honeyed words and lies.
We refuse to trust the very government we elect and to which we turn when we want something. We are like the citizens of Ancient Rome – only happy when we are provided bread and circuses to feed and amuse us.
We condemn racial profiling while we carelessly profile those of other faiths and ideologies all the while submitting ourselves daily to profiling by Internet sites like Facebook.
We criticize what we fear and we criticize everything now.
We are a frightened species, afraid of the very world we have built. We are afraid because we are afraid to face and learn from the past. We are afraid of the past because we know it is a mirror to the present and that we are no different or better than those who failed before us and we instinctively know the consequences of that failure.
We are a dangerous species because we react rather than respond; driven by emotion rather than knowledge and understanding.
We are hypocrites trapped in a politically correct hypocrisy of our own making. Our values, when they exist, are convenient and inconsistently applied. What we condemn in one we condone in another.
When an African-American is killed by someone of mixed race in an altercation gone bad – it’s racism. When the reverse happens – it is not. Those who criticize the record of an African-American president and refuse to vote for him are labeled racists but those who vote for him because of his race and despite his record are not.
We are threatened by the beliefs and faiths of others. Christians are verbally harassed and persecuted while other faiths are accommodated in one society, the reverse is true in another. The common thread is that one faith persecutes another and many who embrace no faith, persecute all faiths.
We fight absurd battles over things like the word Christmas as if somehow the future of our societies is dependent on the eradication of the word from public use.
We spend trillions on weapons and have perfected killing but have yet to understand how to eliminate poverty. We criticize income disparity and criticize those who have succeeded but have never learned how to provide opportunity for all to achieve and to earn a share of society’s wealth.
We trivialize profound issues like abortion with shallow justifications but with no knowledge of when life begins and are afraid to have that discussion for fear of where it may lead us.
Nothing is our fault or the fault of those we support. It is always the fault of someone else or something else. We demand accountability but take no responsibility.
Everything is a crisis.
We pontificate about our children’s future when it comes to global warming even as we threaten their economic future with our own greed and stupidity. We condemn the greed of others and rationalize our own.
There is no difference between what we are today and what we were in Ancient Rome except that our technology is more advanced and despite that, we can’t build a road that doesn’t require resurfacing after a year where the Romans built roads that lasted centuries.
We are as vain, as shallow, as self-absorbed and as ineffective as the Romans ever were. We confuse conquest and grand edifices for advancement but our common humanity has not progressed an inch. Our values are unchanged, our method of dealing with issues remains the same and our success as people is no better.
We are not evolving because we cannot adapt to change. We cannot adapt to change because we are unwilling to change how we see and deal with the constantly changing world around us.
Thousands of species have come and gone. Those that succeeded were adaptive. Those that failed and eventually disappeared were not.
Successful species learn from their history. They learn which plants sustain them, which are poisonous. Through trial and error they learn. They embrace what is needed to adapt to change and discard what holds them back or threatens their survival. The only history from which we learn is the history of victimization and different tribes perpetuate and wallow in the wrongs of the past rather than learning from them, correcting them and moving forward to embrace the new opportunities of the present.
In our arrogance, we assume that we are too grand, too superior a species to fail and so learn nothing from our history. Learning nothing, we are ill-equipped to make the changes necessary to move civilization forward. It stands still today, befuddled by the same issues it faced thousands of years ago only better dressed and with grander technology.
Whatever else he may have got right or wrong, Darwin was right about one thing. Those species that will not adapt to change by changing will not survive and we, my friends, out of intransigence and fear are allowing ourselves to become just one more of Darwin’s failed species.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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