As a fan of Nat Geo and a space enthusiast, I was thrilled to see the cover of their December 2009 issue entitled “Are We Alone: Searching the Heavens for Another Earth”, written by Timothy Ferris.
The article gave an excellent detailed synopsis telling of the findings of over 370 “exoplanets” – worlds orbiting stars other than the sun. Some of these may hold the ability to host carbon life forms familiar to us or brand new life forms beyond our imagination – an infinite unimaginable number of possibilities if we consider the endless number of galaxies in this one universe alone.
The article following “Are We Alone” was about Africa’s Hadza tribe who live in the bush of northern Tanzania. They still use sticks to start fires and as writer Martin Schoeller describes, they “offer a glimpse of what life was like before the birth of agriculture 10,000 years ago”.
What surprised me was the nostalgic way Schoeller spoke of the Hadza, hinting that perhaps they’d discovered something about how to live life that we had missed. He idyllically narrates a life without religious and social structures, without wealth, time constraints or duties.
But what he misses is that this is also a society that is without progress, without discovery, without curiosity. Personally I would rather take drawbacks that come with modernity than live a life where I’ll never know of, let alone one day take a trip in Virgin Galactic for an up close view of the heavens spoken off in the article preceding Schoellers. Without an evolving society, we would never have any concept of our place in the cosmos, with no idea of what lay beyond
I’d much rather live in a world that’s constantly moving forward, constantly working to better itself, even if it falls of course or finds the journey difficult.
Truth be told, there’s nothing nostalgic about the Hazda. The tribe has not evolved, and that to me is not something that’s impressive. Nothing has changed for them over the last ten thousand years – nothing in their art, their culture, their tools, their thinking.
The article stood out as a stark contrast to the one before it, where we’re told of the spectacular discoveries from sailing the unchartered heavens. Glorious and remarkable findings full of potential and new discovery – none of which would be possible if society as a whole had chosen to live a static lifestyle that never evolved, that still did things and thought the same way our ancestors did thousands of years ago.
Personally, I’d rather live in society where the monkey discovered to use bones as tools and weapons.
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