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The Continuity From Ancient Extinctions To Current Genocides

Did you know that at one time (not that long ago even as human evolution goes), there were perhaps half a dozen human species on earth?

For example, besides Neanderthals in Ice Age Europe, there were Denisovans in Tibet and Siberia, plus two dwarf species – Homo heidelbergensis and Homo luzonensis on Flores and Luzon respectively – living in close or distant proximity with “fully modern humans” about 100,000 years ago.

For many years the thinking in paleo-anthropology was that modern humans – Homo sapiens sapiens – wiped out and/or outcompeted Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, as well as other so-called primitive human species.

But the current trend is to whitewash human rapaciousness, and blur the mammoth difference between the human adaptive pattern, which removed us from an ecological niche, and the rest of nature, which operates in terms of ecological niches.

Theorists are now saying things like, “the ancient DNA discovery of 50,000-year-old viruses points to an alternative explanation for Neanderthals’ demise: deadly infectious diseases carried by Homo sapiens.” How convenient.

Previous conventional thinking went to the other extreme: “The late 19th century German zoologist Ernst Haeckel proposed calling Neanderthals Homo stupidus to distinguish them from Homo sapiens (wise humans).

The dominant explanation for their extinction was that our ancestors outcompeted other human species using their superior cognitive abilities.

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“This argument has become increasingly untenable, however, thanks to mounting evidence that Neanderthals were capable of all sorts of sophisticated behaviors, including burying their dead, painting cave walls, using medicinal plants and seafaring between Mediterranean islands.”

Apart from the dubiousness of these claims about Neanderthals possessing “all sorts of sophisticated behaviors” (the evidence is very scant), the need to explain away man’s aggressiveness runs up against overwhelming evidence from recorded human history, when indigenous peoples were largely wiped out during colonization.

Even so, the superficial view that “the roots of the climate and biodiversity crises are planted in colonization, and solutions lie in decolonization and supporting indigenous pathways” doesn’t cut it either.

The refusal to face ourselves as we are as a species, and the need to attribute lesser causes to the disappearance of a number of primeval human species once fully modern humans began their global spread, and to indulge in denial even as genocide is occurring in real time before our very eyes, is itself an indictment of human nature.

To conclude “our ancestors 50,000 years ago had germs on their side in replacing Neanderthals, but we might not be so lucky in the future,” is simply silly theorizing, designed to avoid, if not deny human nature and the present crisis of Homo sapiens.

Indeed, to refute the pollyannaish view of prehistoric humans, all one has to do is consider what happened when Europeans invaded North America. Yes, their diseases spread before them, and wiped a large percentage of indigenous peoples.

But “Manifest Destiny” is what destroyed Native American cultures, and Custer’s Last Stand was actually the last stand of the Great Plains Indians. Almost certainly the same process occurred when modern humans spread into Europe, the home of Neanderthals for a few hundred thousand years.

We are at a nadir of pessimism about the human prospect, and I don’t mean to add to it. Very few people still feel as I do that humans can radically change. And most Westerners, on the right or the left, subscribe to the self-fulfilling prophecy that there is no other possibility but “a range of developing, deplorable worldwide trends.”

As the human crisis intensifies however, it’s necessary to ask: Is life enigmatically operating to find another way, to bring about a transmutation in the living generations?

“God does not care about the dead,” Ken Burns, the optimistic chronicler of American life said during his attempt to address and arrest the national slide into autocracy at a commencement address at Brandeis University.

What he did not say was that God, or more accurately, the unfathomable drive of life, does not care about the living dead anymore than the physically dead.

Therefore, the first task of the true individual in our spirit- killing age is to remain alive and growing as a human being. That would be true even if the verdict was in on our age, which it isn’t, much less the human species per se.

Understanding ourselves as ancient/modern humans, and thereby liberating ourselves to grow as human beings, entails diligently questioning and deepening insight into ‘higher thought.’

For it’s the human adaptive pattern of symbolic thought, which reached its zenith with fully modern humans emerging about 100,000 years ago, that most contributed to the extinction of archaic human species, as well as the megafauna in prehistoric times.

We are psychologically and emotionally the same creatures we were then, which is why humans are still engaging in genocide, and have started the Sixth Mass Extinction in the entire history of life on earth. Whether we want to or not, we must bring about a transmutation within ourselves.

Passive observation gathering non-directed attention is the key, since “thought is an impediment to meditation, but only through meditation can this impediment be dissolved.”

~Martin LeFevre

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