Human beings have become the most dominant species on the planet. No other organism encompasses so much of the earth. Yet, we are far from the fastest, strongest or largest in the animal kingdom. What made this possible? I believe human beings are the most adaptable creatures on earth, allowing us to inhabit much of the planet. No matter the environment, humans have found creative ways to survive. From east to west, north to south, we have taken over the earth and altered it to our needs. I would like to help you realize our incredible ability to adapt is a gift and curse.
As a gift, it may be rather obvious. We have been able to manipulate our environment so that most of us no longer worry about the essentials (food, shelter and water); this is not normal for any other creatures. Not worrying about such things has enabled us to put our attention elsewhere, which has led to many inventions and given us time to think and attempt to understand the world. These blessings are a double-edged sword.
It is a curse because if we don’t have to work to survive, we appear to seek out problems. If you have never struggled with real issues, you have likely found things that made you worry. Your worst life experience is the worst you can imagine. If you never worry about where your food comes from, you adapt and assume it should be there. While evolutionarily, not every member of a tribe would need to know how to forage, hunt, fish, etc. They would likely know where it came from and how to do it. Food securities are far less of an issue these days, and you may never need to learn to grow or get your food. I feel it does something even more harmful.
It leads to a lack of gratitude towards our food and even a lack of understanding of death. We are so disconnected, and we often don’t realize everything on our plate had to die to keep us alive. In contrast, 3D printed food and Vegan movements may espouse that they did not kill. I would argue that more goes into 3D printed food than we realize; what raw materials were used to make this food? If vegan, maybe you can say the apple didn’t die. If you use a toilet, are you stealing fertilizer from the land? If you throw away the apple’s core, you are taking away the apples’ chance at a new life.
Humans traditionally were very grateful for food. They looked at any food as a gift and were thankful. These days, many have demonized foods. Many people feel guilty when eating instead of grateful when having a meal, changing the effects of the foods you eat on your body dramatically. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg, and not only does it change how we interact with food but also the world. If you still had to get your food and water (let alone shelter etc.), you would innately know more about your environment and what is living around you.
While I’m not suggesting we all go back to procuring our food, I want to point out how getting it from the grocery store and local farmers’ markets impacts us. We have outsourced food productions to others, and not only does it create a disconnect but also a lack of work. Traditionally, If you wanted food, you had to work for it. Very few wild foods are easy to obtain without prior knowledge and physical activity.
This costs us again and has changed how we view nutrition and exercise. Exercise has always been used to keep the body healthy (i.e., yoga and tai chi). It examined your inner workings and attempted to keep them working optimally. Other physical exercises would be to train for combat, to protect yourself and the tribe. Today it is common for people to go to the gym to burn off the excess calories they feel guilty about consuming. Think about how backwards that is. Humans are inherently lazy because we need to conserve calories as much as possible to use them when we need them, i.e., food procurement, reproduction, combat and celebration. We kept our bodies in their best condition so they could keep us alive. We trash our bodies with food and then abuse them in the gym to make up for it. This same issue has not just cost our bodies but also our minds.
We no longer need our memories to keep us safe, feed us, and provide shelter. We are allowed to let our minds focus on whatever we deem important. While this can be a great thing, unfortunately, it often leads to people filling their brains with useless information. Imagine you didn’t have google to ask all your questions. Where would you go? One would need to seek an elder who is knowledgeable in such things. The elder would also feel valued in passing their wisdom, and both young and old would do whatever they could to protect that information.
Today, many just learn how to do a job. Once we have done that job, we retire and often no longer access the information it took a lifetime to acquire. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” is sadly what usually happens. The young no longer require the services of their elders due to the proliferation of the internet and technology moving at a rapid pace. This makes our elders far less valued and often leads to viewing them as a hindrance instead of protecting their expert knowledge.
I am not trying to demonize anything in this article. I wish to point out that if you sit in a chair looking at a screen 8 hours a day, you will adapt to be very good at sitting and looking at a screen. If you don’t have anything to worry about, you will likely find something to cause it. I wish for people to look at food as a gift again. Another life has given you sustenance to maintain yours. Our bodies need to be taken care of with both healthy eating and exercise, not abused by them.
Furthermore, our knowledge is what we need to hold sacred and in turn, our elders as they are the stewards of it. We are so fortunate to be humans, yet we waste it on trivial things that don’t matter all while destroying our bodies and minds. Can you adopt a grateful attitude? Can you view food as a gift and take care of your body and mind as well as those around you? If yes, maybe we can also help the earth, which gives us all life!