Looking into the mirror just now, I touched my nose and cursed its form – a bugbear I have inherited from my dad. The nose, that is, and not the cursing. Although the latter was a claim he colourfully did execute; it is something that has, for the most part, been something I did not inherit.
But no, not the nose.
And whilst it marks centre-stage on my face, alas, on nervous occasions, it too marks my vision. However, I carry far less obtrusive traits that he has ceded to me, and these add to those of my dear mum, in the cauldron of me.
Resting both within and beyond these genetic features has been their shared values of kindness for animals and a keen sense of justice.
But the making of me does not stop there.
For the tentacles of my being creep back – way, way back. The clearest demarcation signs being some 300,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens emerged in Africa. Although it could well be argued remnants of these ancestors still live on in me, and indeed all of us today.
However, it has only been in the last 5000 years or so that we humans have kicked aside the notion of being those hunters and gatherers we once were, as a more sedentary way of living has become us.
And one too of abundance – for many of us.
No longer were humans faced with the challenging times of living. Of outpacing the sabre-toothed tiger, or other opportunistic predators who lurked hungrily and powerfully behind every rock. We resourcefully surmounted the perils the elements plagued upon us and pushed our smarts to the limit to survive the scarcity of food.
And whilst our lives have fast-forwarded to a far different world that finds us today, it would seem our minds have not. For they are still in many ways like the ones we inherited from our ancestors, and not kept pace with the realities of our modern lives.
And it would appear we are slow learners to catch on to this.
Those footsteps we heard outside last night did not come from a curious possum on their way home. No, rather they belonged to a robber intent on harming us. And that person who just smiled at us in the street was surely trying to mask their ill-intent – “phew”, luckily we quickly moved on and did not return the gesture.
Suspicious minds, which fixate on problems that do not even exist or blow to proportions concerns that they do not warrant, hang heavy in our lives. Judging quickly, condemning harshly of others (humans and non-humans), classing them as friends or foe; a classification from which they can never recover. A need to overindulge or hoard, which clogs our lives and our arteries, driven by a fear of when and where the next basic necessity may come.
All of which has set up a negativity loop that we naively do not even realise we are on.
Alas, as a result, we keep our guard up and kindness down. And none more so than to those we consider “different” or not familiar to our circle of being. Yet this short-sightedness is surely harming us, as it is those with whom we share the planet.
It has been widely and wisely said that life lessons will continue to appear before us, until their meaning is learned. And as we sit at the precipice of the sixth mass extinction, there can be no greater lesson to be learned than how we can all get along.
And whilst I too am still searching for the answer to this, I feel we can be wisely guided there by pondering this thought: if our presence of this earth is to be measured by our betterment of it and contribution to it, our current way of living puts us at odds with this.
So how best to navigate our way forward?
Whilst our genetic inheritance leaves us with attributes we cannot cast aside, there are many inherited ones we can. Ideas and values that no longer serve us are a great place to start. Cue that desperate need to belong that overwhelms our compassionate selves and prevents us from questioning. Cue those that have seen us live lives in the righteous belief that the world is there for our taking, exploitation, and enslaving.
For entwined in our DNA is our curious nature, one that seeks to explore and expand. This is what we need to feed as we too give over to our enlightened and empathetic self.
and moreover what we do to them we shall eventually and destructively do to ourselves.
Living this shall become our magnum opus as we think not of the past, but of our future, our shared future with all of those with whom we share the planet. One where our thoughts, actions and deeds shall ensure that the meek shall inherit the earth.