2018-11-09 / Commentary

The Civilized People

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation

Suzy and I were having lunch at Miyo’s, a local stir fry and sushi restaurant: A habit we cultivated while vacationing in earlier years when we still worked. On this particular lunch date, I overheard the two guys behind me talking. Their conversation wasn’t very intriguing; it was about some unimportant business trip one was taking to some unnamed place for their unnamed company.

The timbre of their voices dragged my attention to their conversation and wouldn’t allow me to tune them out. This dialogue didn’t ruin my lunch, my time with the Landlord, or my afternoon snooze. But it started me thinking about our modern world, and how many people work at something not dedicated to the betterment of humanity.

According to Yuval Noah Harari, we’ve evolved from hunter- gatherers—a near perfect society—into a supposedly more civilized people. Harari has a PHD in history from the University of Oxford, and his book, Sapiens, has been translated into 26 languages, so he’s not your basic dummy, and I trust his judgment on his wheelhouse subjects.

According to Harari’s research, most hunter gatherers’ work day involved preparing the camp, taking care of the youngsters, and finding, preparing, and consuming food. While there were obviously lean times, each small tribe usually was able to find sufficient food and eat quite nicely. There was lots of leisure time.

A couple of things jumped out at me—everyone in the group was taken care of and no one was left out. And every member of the group was involved in the process. Today we call that socialism.

I remember seeing a cave drawing from that era that showed an ancient depiction of group assassination. A tribe member not pulling his weight was dispatched. Consider the current world and how many people aren’t doing something beneficial to the larger group and try to calculate how many would disappear if such a practice still existed. Middle managers would be extinct.

A vast amount of modern work, if one can call it that, involves feeding the capitalist machine that is so prevalent in America. I love my Hi Def TV and all the satellite originated shows that emanate from it. I enjoy being able to eat something different every day and consume all sorts of tasty beverages while being entertained. A few grains, a bit of dried meat, and water would take some getting used to.

But think of all the jobs associated with preparing all the different kinds of Cheezits and Oreos, getting them distributed, and the advertising that lets us all know how stupid we are if we don’t try them all.

Just think of all the jobs involved in making sure there are multiple choices of places to buy those important food items. Jimmy Buffet once sang about all the people who make us things and the need for self storage. Consider that, too.

How different would things be if we concentrated initial efforts taking care of our group’s needs and used the rest to improve our world. No trips to Walmart, no overtime to pay off credit cards, no fighting about who gets what.

Sounds too good to be true, huh?

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