‘Why did people make such a fateful miscalculation? For the same reason people through history have miscalculated. People were unable to fathom the full consequences of their decisions.’*
Yuval Noah Harari is reflecting on the serial “improvements’ our ancestors made which moved them from hunting-gathering to farming; he argues the health of the more people farming produced was worse than the of the smaller numbers of hunter-gatherers**
Harari calls this the “luxury trap,” and claims it’s still with us today. Is there another story here, though, one which inexorably pulls us forwards? And what does forward look like?
I wonder whether Humans are the “plastic ape,” meaning we are both shaped and shapers:
‘By practice, we mean doable habits that transform us, rewiring our brains, restoring our inner ecology, renovating our inner architecture, expanding our capacities. We mean actions within our power that helps us become capable of things currently beyond our power.”^
It’s debatable whether we control our technology or our technology controls us. Watch what happens the next time you’re in a cafe or similar, and someone is pulled from a conversation because their tablet-friend speaks to them.
(It’s amazing to think that we have in a standard iPhone, the technology cornucopia which would have once totalled around £500,000 when the items first came to market.^^ Is this forward? Some would say not. I feel we’re still learning to use our technologies in the best possible way, towards telling a story we feel impelled to both write and live, believing ourselves to be more than creatures made for food, procreation, and sheltering.)
Recently, in a place we call Göbekli Tepe, great decorated stones were uncovered, shaped by hunter-gatherers almost ten thousand years ago, over a long period of time. Perhaps they ask a question about how these people felt the future to be calling them, some primal pull towards the future.
‘Explanation sets the need for extra inquiry aside; narrative invites us to rethink what we thought we knew.’*^
(*From Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens.)
(**More babies were being born to a poorer and more vulnerable diet.)
(^From Brian McLaren’s Naked Spirituality.)
(^^From Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler’s Bold.)
(*^From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)