What is it to be human? This is a question, that in some form or another I have consciously asked myself throughout the last 10 years of my life.
It’s difficult to describe what encompasses being human, as there are so many expressions throughout culture, history and beliefs, which illustrate ‘what it is’. If we think of; Art, Philosophy, Music, Literature, Science, Spirituality and so on, we find that all of these are expressions of life experiences; from what we observe, feel, think, how we react, and many other expressions. All of this is what it is to be human; to feel love, when you see a flower bloom or a baby smile, to have an inspirational moment; as if from nowhere, when you find a solution to a problem you have battled with for ages. The same can also be said, when you feel saddened by something, fearful or powerless to help. These are the emotions that drive our thoughts, words and actions.
It’s good to get angry, but where does that anger go? How do we use it? Most of our lives, our daily actions are quite often influenced by being in an emotional state which is reactive, rather than responsive. This creates a chain reaction, which is sometimes difficult to control. Many of us live in this way, because quite frankly, the world we live in is set up to create stress and conflict. We live in a dog eat dog world, where acts of kindness seem to be overshadowed by celebrities’ private lives and reality TV shows.
How many of us struggle to have time to actually stop completely and breathe, look up at the stars or get caught in a moment of joy, at something almost nonchalant. It’s these moments that we can use to observe our minds and see what is happening. But the sad fact is many people use their free time to relax in unhealthier ways, like watching TV, gaming and going to the pub to socialise. Not that I am condemning any of these, as almost everything in life has a positive reaction to it. But it is in what these new technological devices that have replaced their natural predecessors that the issue is found. The engagement that people have been having for the past 10 years with technology is now looming closer to our reality being changed into one in which the natural way of life has all but disappeared from many peoples lives around the world.
If we look back 1000’s of years ago, we see that our ancient ancestors had a deep connection with the universe, the natural world and ultimately themselves. We can see this evidence in many monolithic structures. Some which are still preserved today, which date back as far as 11500 years ago, like Globeci Tepi, which blows away the current mainstream idea on anthropological evolution of civilizations. The detail and quality of art work carved into the 5 m stones is beyond belief, and a structure within the site, has been constructed exactly to the true North South longitude.
What has driven the success of our language, culture, art, etc? How did we become so expressive with our minds and hearts? Considering that we were meant to be ‘according to mainstream science’ hunter gatherers 11,000 years ago and didn’t start agriculture until about 10000 years ago. With structures built with this kind of precision, just as with the pyramids humanity must have been advanced enough to have the time to dedicate to constructing them as well as taking care of the essentials of life. Essentially these building represented an expression of our ancestors connection to the universe. We can also see this expression through art of the thousands of petro-gliphs throughout the world that have common symbols of what our ancestors saw in the night sky, symbols like Jacobs ladder and sprites that were observed as messages from the universe. This is a civilization that understands it’s environment and it’s purpose within it.
How does any civilization reach this pinnacle? To reach the point where a society is prosperous enough to give time to expression through art, culture and language; there has to be a mastery of the basic survive and thrive skills. If humans have nutritious food, clean drinking water, shelter and warmth-then they are able to then focus on more important things, that truly make us human beings.
Bonobo’s (Chimpanzees cousins) have throughout their evolution been able to have an abundant existence, because of there being no competition for food, which in turn allows them to have the time to socialize more than their cousins Chimpanzees and Gorillas, who live on the opposite side of the Congo river. Whereas the Chimpanzees, are very competitive this can lead to violent confrontations with each other, which creates a tense and more hierarchical society. On the other hand, with the bonobo’s they have developed a more peaceful way of settling disputes. This lowers stress levels and strengthens and reinforces the importance of the friendships they have and how they prosper together and not apart. Fighting becomes unnecessary, unless their was ever a shortage of food.
In Human evolution, we would have taken this one step further or in a slightly different direction and found this balance quicker, due to similar geographical influences, of having the tools and resources to cover the basic necessities of life, so time was then afforded to developing more complex and beneficial ways of interacting and thriving. You can see this in many mammal species. When bellies are full, the mind is no longer in survival mode, it reverts back to the infant like state of playing, learning and growing.
Human beings have never had a linear evolution. The cultural and societal developments have happened because environmental conditions have favoured human development. Most of the population of the human race are located in the mid to higher latitudes of our Earth. This wasn’t always the case. Many of the ancient monolithic sites are nearer the equator, or certainly within the warmer parts of the planet, rather than the temperate zones.
What has enabled us to survive up until now? Knowledge and the ability to be able to adapt to an ever changing world. We now live in a one click western world, where we can get anything we want in one day, but we have forgotten our basic human needs. No wonder why so many people are lost. Confusion about who we are, disconnection from our true heritage and history.
So what does it mean to be human? It means to understand the history of humanity and mother earth. To gain a true understanding of our history, we cannot rely on what we learnt at school, or even our history books. The study of Geology for instance, gives us a glance into earths history and it hasn’t been a steady one, just like the universe, our earth is in constant flux. In geological time our earth is constantly moving. We can look at individual accounts and even into literature, and be able to see a correlation between changes in rock sediment accumulation and those accounts of human history recorded in that period. Through this we can see that our relationship with Mother Earth has been one that not only challenges the human race but also defines our evolution. It is this connection which I believe we have lost. When you find this connection then it is easier to see what is healthy and what can be destructive. It is the interconnection of ourselves and our world that encapsulates what it is to be human. It is the beauty of expression of culture, love and celebration, of interpretation. The search for knowledge about ourselves and our deep and ancient connection with the cosmos is, in my opinion the most responsible action we can take for ourselves and our Earth.
How do we realize in actuality this most fundamental of skills? The practical art of preparing is now gaining a reputation among people who are already seeking a self-sufficient and off-grid life. The beginnings of prepping came from a necessity to provide everything for ourselves, by our own means. Now, most people see this as a choice and not a necessity. It was based on knowledge which had been passed down on how to plan for most of the eventualities that life could throw at us. We knew how to read the changes in the seasons, the migrations of the animals and the bounty of nature. We could read the intimate changes and respond to them to ensure the health and prosperity of the community-working with nature and understanding our responsibility towards it and knowing how to survive when times got hard and if disaster threatened us, was essential.
It’s only down to the fact we have had a relatively quiet and comfortable period of peace on the planet the last 80 years, that we have become blinded to the reality of inevitable and unstoppable change. People in my view have become complacent to the fact that we have endured many hard times in the past. Upheavals of society, just like today, presented people with a do or die situation. Only by tracing back throughout history to find the lost ways of humanity, the lost ancient civilizations that were able to create such lasting images of their society. They too were faced with global threats, although they may not have known it was global, as a response they used their knowledge to find solutions. I often ask myself, why are the pyramids and other such monolithic structures standing today? I think ‘Will our skyscrapers still stand in a 1000 years time?’ Probably not!
The purpose of life, is for each of us to know our purpose! The richness and abundance of this earth is beyond anything humans could create. To understand and accept this is the first step to being in harmony with nature, with the natural rhythms of life. The happiest people on the planet are the ones that have this balance and they are able to harness this and show it to the world. The human spirit, is indestructible. Forget opposable thumbs and voice boxes (although these are fundamental for the expression of our spirit). It is our soul, heart and spirit which is the cause of the myriad of culture, language and individuality we see today. Without the human spirit, we would have not overcome the atrocities that were caused by the ignorance of base man and the natural and sometimes sudden cyclical climatic changes.