I wonder if it is useful to dwell on our past from time to time. Our past as a species, that is. Perhaps it will help us to understand the present – and I cannot pretend to understand much of the present at all. But – so the theory goes – if you look back to see in what direction we have been going, and to examine the things we have done in the past, you might arrive at an inkling that we actually have a goal in mind to which we’re striving. Something we’re trying to achieve.
And so I wonder what it would have been like at the very beginning of our species, and what it might have been like to leave the bush and our animal past, and start taking steps towards becoming the human being of the present. And what motivated us to go into a direction that – at least to me – appears substantively different from our animal past. Some will probably want to debate me on this point as they will claim that this is a difference of degree and not of kind, but I would want to claim that our behaviour is radically different from any other animal although there are many aspects of it that clearly hark back to our animals past.
However this might have come about, it will have taken a few hundred thousand years to evolve from beast to homo sapiens and to arrive at that apparent difference between us and the animal that we still very much are. Clearly, we do not simply live in our environment and accept it for what it is – or use it primarily to sustain us. Instead – we manipulate it, artfully, craftily, and more often than not destructively, in order to sustain us; but more than that: to restructure it as we see fit, even if this would be to our own detriment.
Substantively, though, what are we aiming for, or what do we want? Given the state of the world today, all I can see is mass bewilderment, a morass of sociopolitical and ideological strategies and their ensuing variations in inequities. No, we really don’t know where we’re going – an entire planet full of people, lost in space. And we’re the only aliens out here.