Sunday, June 02, 2013

Nature vs. an absence of Nurture.

I just finished watching the second episode of the Discovery Channel's new series, North America.  It is a nature series with beautiful photography, fascinating animals and well documented stories of how they survive from year to year, season by season.  This episode documented, among others, how 30,000 grizzly bears survive in the Alaskan wilderness.  How a mother bear cares for her brood for two years before cutting them loose as she mates again.

As I contemplated this show and its fantastic photography, I ruminated about the difference between the animal kingdom and how man has developed over the last ten to fifteen thousand years.

We've gone from a nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an advanced civilization capable of sending members of our species to the moon and our remote devices out into the galactic spaces between the stars. This is a remarkable journey, directly attributable to man's development of a cooperative instinct combined with our ability to learn from our (and our ancestors') mistakes, however spotty and temporary such lessons may be.

We've learned that we can stick together and cooperate in everything from hunting, to farming, to distributing the resulting products to a large and distant population removed completely from the mechanics of food production.

Animals can't do that - all of their efforts must go towards the obtaining of enough food to allow survival through the winter until food becomes available in spring.  There is no leisure time.

People have leisure time. Our cooperation allows us to spread the work of providing food, shelter and other necessities among enough of us that the larger number of us don't even have to know how food is produced and distributed!  Too many of our kids have never seen an animal slaughtered for butchering, or even are aware that the process exists!  Food comes from a supermarket, not the ground or with the death of an animal.

Pretty astonishing that we could do this in ten to fifteen thousand years, given our proclivity for violence.

But there is a fly in this wonderful ointment.

It is called the Republican Party.

Recently, I have seen Facebook memes to the affect that Republicans want to take us back to the 1930's, or even the eighteenth century.  This is patently false.

After viewing this program, it is obvious to me that Republican "values" of libertarianism would take us back, not a hundred years, nor even two hundred.  These values are so damaging to what humans have learned in the last ten thousand years, their efforts would destroy our ability to cooperate in maintaining an advanced society at all, and would set that ability back at least four or five thousand years, if not eventually the entire ten thousand.

One cannot maintain an advanced technological society without an educated population.  One must know and understand science and the scientific method in order to be able to be a productive citizen either as a worker or a voter.  Republicans are intent on destroying America's public education system, a system we developed over the last two hundred years and which assisted us in becoming one of the most technologically developed countries in the world in the 20th century.

They want to force social values back to a patriarchal system that kept mankind poor and struggling in violence and bloodshed for much of those ten thousand years.

We must not allow that to happen.

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