It always makes me nervous when I start typing words. I never know where my words are going to go. I know that many of you plan your blog posts with great care. Not me. I think of a topic and just sort of let the words pour out… (Hence the clever name of my blog, I guess)…
And in a way, you could say that the way I blog is a lot like the way evolution works. Nature comes up with a bunch of ideas and tosses them out onto the winds of chance and fate. Some of them work. Most of them don’t.
I have never understood why so many people consider evolution and creationism to be mutually exclusive. I am a completely nonreligious person, but it just seems to me that we don’t have to choose one or the other. Why is it less of a miracle that all of the life that exists today evolved from simple organisms over millions of years than if some higher power did it all in a week? The main point of argument seems to be how long it took to happen. But let’s set that aside for now.
I do think I have figured out one part of the evolutionary concept that makes some people uncomfortable… besides that whole being descended from monkeys thing… It is another one of those things that we must all be aware of, but we seldom if ever talk about. So of course I want to talk about it. You know how I am.
And here is that point:
The fact that each and every one of us is alive today can be boiled down to one obvious fact. It means that for every single generation over millions of years, two of our distant ancestors had to survive to reach breeding age. And the conclusion is as obvious as it is inescapable. We do not all come from a long line of heroes.
Yeah, you heard me. And you know I am right. And it makes you uncomfortable, doesn’t it?
But let’s face it. Heroes tend to die young. And if just one of those endless members of your family tree had died before passing on their genes, then you would not be alive today. So just accept the truth. It doesn’t mean they were all cowards by any means. But they were realists and survivors.
To avoid the controversy of going back to our animal ancestry or even beyond to the simple organisms that swam in the primordial soup, let’s just take the cavemen as an example. When the saber-toothed tiger attacked, our ancestors were not the first to leap into battle. They were the ones who paused for a moment to let someone else thrust the first spear. When the volcano erupted, our forebears didn’t always rush to save the women and children. They were too busy making sure they had a clear path through the lava flows.
In later years, these survival skills, so carefully honed through generation upon generation, just became second nature. In 1917, when the whistle blew and the orders were given for the men to go ‘over the top’, to climb out of the trenches and assault the enemy, maybe our illustrious family member had to pause for a moment to tie his shoes.
No, I am not saying that all your ancestors were cowards who tossed baby cave people to the tigers to save themselves, or hid in a trench. But I would be willing to bet that a fair percentage of our family line had a pretty good sense of their own worth, and were not above balancing the odds in their favor. It isn’t anything to be ashamed of. And even if it were, at least you are alive to feel that shame.