We are the same as our ancestors.
Physiologically, mentally, and pathologically, modern medicine has found that many traits, diseases, and characteristics run through family lines. There are countless studies, specifically studies into heart disease, cancers, and some mental disorders. We also tend to look like our forbears, as well – which is something so commonplace that the first thing one does when introduced to an infant is to determine which parent the child looks like. In turn, the parent resembles one of both of their parents, ad nauseum.
It stands to reason that we also inherited the internal functioning of our forebears as well. And, going back, we find that modern man hasn’t significantly changed in a long time. Heights have been roughly the same, as have behaviors, preferences, and skills and activities. However, there have been several recent introductions into human living which have fundamentally altered those behaviors, preferences, skills and activities. Some of the introductions have been beneficial, while others have been detrimental.
The grasslands, forests, canyons, and coastlines of our forebears have been largely replaced by city streets, on-ramps, and towering buildings. The others still exist, but fewer and fewer people live out among them, and even when they do, they largely live apart from what is and should be considered their natural habitat. Electricity, communications, heat, just-in-time worldwide delivery – these separate us from our natural environment. The rise and set of the sun is irrelevant to our day to day lives. Our needs for protection and shelter are largely covered, and we no longer have to worry about it on a day to day basis. We no longer worry about food storage or making it through the winte
r, meat comes packaged in sterile Styrofoam and bone-free – we never even have to think about how the animal that we’re eating had a skeleton, let alone a face. Fruits and vegetables are available year round, picked early and gassed to force ripening. What’s more, we’ve hybridized the fruits and vegetables that we do eat, making them sweeter, bigger and more desirable. They look perfect, are free from any disease or pestilence, and completely sterile.
However, there is a part of every human that yearns for their natural habitat. Mountains are beautiful, we will sit and watch the sun go down, remarking over the colors and the complexity and the beauty of nature. This causes us all to feel a displacement that modern society and civilization instills in the populations which created it. And while we are all able to cope with situations and events, we have to ask how badly this affects our coping baseline, to have to feel as though we are living in some sort of exhibit, manicured and falsified to give the impression of nature, but far, far away from the habitat in which we belong.
We are a species living out of time and place thanks to our own devices. The advances made in society and civilization were made at the expense of a vast, deep part of ourselves which we are just now beginning to realize. There are a multitude of ‘self-help’ regimens and ideologies dedicated to solving the disconnect we feel with our world, our food, and our personal interactions, from Abs Diet to Vegan, from ab crunches to communications to inner peace. These are all designed to help us get what we want – a deeper connection and a sense of meaning and purpose, which has been lost as we have lost our connection with what is truly our nature.
Physiologically, we are not meant to be sequestered from the sun, confined to a chair, or a treadmill, or to stay up until the sun rises. Our lives, though safer, have been routinized, confined, and boxed up in such a way that we have no escape from the stresses we endure because of it. We are safe, but the safety induces the stress that it ever so slowly killing us all.