Humans came along, noticed this beautiful world and immediately thought, “How can we best exploit this for our exclusive use?” Many today still hold the attitude that the earth exists for humans only, and all other creatures are either there for our use, or are hinderances to us which must be removed. We clear the land, eliminating all the trees and plant life, with little concern for the ecosystems we could be destroying and we use pesticides and fertilizers which kill off bees and other beneficial species whose impact on the environment we don’t bother learning about until it’s too late.
Even without destroying ecosystems, human populations have a significant impact on the world. Because of light pollution, future generations will not know the night sky or the constellations which once guided and inspired our ancestors. We’ve already lost much of the view of the stars, except for the moon or the occasional twinkle of Venus or Jupiter. Now, the only way we see the constellations is through a telescope.
We have become accustomed to relatively easy lives. We reside in artificial structures, eat processed foods, drink purified water, take cars or public transportation to travel long distances, all of which gives us a false sense of what it’s like to live in the world. Our ancestors had no delusions about what a cruel and unforgiving world they inhabited. That’s why their life expectancy was so much shorter than ours; they worked constantly and had to stay on the go, tracking the herds they depended upon for survival. I’ve read that the bones of Neanderthals, our extinct cousins who hunted alongside our ancestors, exhibit the same type of injuries as modern rodeo riders. Often times, solutions vital to our ancestors survival become problematic in our modern world.
Bread is one such example. The very thing that has made bread a staple of the human diet for thousands of years can pose difficulties for modern humans. It’s high in calories, carbs, sodium, and fat. All these aspects were once perfect for nomadic people constantly on the go, who had to keep their energy high and retain fluids. For people confined to desks, who sit all day without much physical activity, fat, calories, carbs, and especially sodium can prove deadly over time. Some people have allergies or intolerances to wheat or other grains. Still its portability and convenience make bread a staple of our diet today.
The capacity to create or destroy exists within every person and often, one goes hand in hand with the other. One cannot build a building without tearing down what’s in its place currently. The dinosaurs roamed the earth for millions of years before giving way for other species to thrive. Growing up in Atlanta, I’ve experienced much of both, as the city reinvents itself every few years. In the vast history of life on this planet, the only thing it seems we can count on is transformation.