• Posted: Mar 19, 2010 22:57:10
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Two days ago I read an article on the CNN_tech website about an archeological find in England, the thousand year old remains of 51 decapitated Vikings. I had two thoughts when I read that article: one, what other fascinating, perhaps tragic, perhaps heroic stories from the human adventure are lying still undiscovered in the most ordinary of places? Such stories can't help but captivate, make us wonder, startle us for the perspective they give upon our own earnest struggles. What must it have been like to have lived such stories?
For just one such place, the stories might even be layered many times over, one story upon another, upon another, and another. Perhaps death by hanging for some sorry starving itinerate for having been found bent over the carcass of a prized animal, not his doing, but a welcomed find, the animal already dead, poisoned perhaps, but blamed, condemned, whipped, slashed, and strung up just the same. Then upon that, from a time years hence, a small spot of blood soaked into ground from which soft green grasses grew on a warm Spring evening when two young lovers, with trembling trepidation, first relinquished unto each other's care their undying vulnerability. Finally upon that tale, perhaps a child, not yet 10, scolded beaten and scorned by both father and mother, finds peace, quietude, and solace away from both, scratching in dirt with pocket knife, carving into tree bark, or scaling limbs high up into the comforting sway of windblown leaves. Story after story upon story. Who knows how many there are haunting the very ordinary places we pass each day.
The second thought I had when I read that article was this: what gene or system of genes within our genome prompts us to aggression toward each other, often to the point of annihilation? In killing one another, are we not undermining the entire viability of our species by possibly extinguishing a different set of genes that could prompt us to be less aggressive, more cooperative, more accommodating toward each other, a trait that would surely multiply the chances of our species' survival?
It's hard for me to imagine the evolutionary wisdom of such a contradiction. Must one conclude: "the gods must be crazy"? Or perhaps mankind, by virtue of self-aggressive genetic programing, is destined to have but fleeting tenure on this planet.
No doubt, that's a story whose end most other species would find a pleasure to trample upon.
Saturday, January 6th, 2007
11.4 mm 54 mm