how to live

How to Live? Lessons from Ancient Humans

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari is considered one of the most read-worthy books of recent times. How we loved thousands of years ago is worth knowing. How much we humans have sacrificed for the development is mind-boggling.

The author has detailed human history of the last millions of years. The author narrates how we humans have sacrificed due to thinking.

He writes,” In Homo-Sapiens (the primate species to which modern humans belong), the brain accounts for about 2 -3 percent of the total body weight, but it consumes 25 percent of the body’s energy when the body is at rest. By comparison, the brains of apes require 8 percent of rest-time energy. Archaic humans paid for their large brains in two ways. Firstly, they spent more time in search of food, secondly, their muscle atrophied.

Like a government diverting money from defense to education, humans diverted energy from biceps to neurons.  It’s hardly a foregone conclusion that this is a good strategy, for the survival of savannah.

A chimpanzee can’t win an argument with Homo-Sapiens but the ape can rip a man apart like a rag doll.”

There are various stories and research of humans who lived thousands of years ago and how have we reached the present state of living, which is unsustainable.

About life, we the citizens of so-called Industrialised and developed nations live is worth reviewing. The author writes,’Today Chinese factory hand leaves home around seven in the morning, makes her way through polluted streets to a sweatshop, and there operates the same machine, in the same way, day in day out, for ten long and mind-numbing hours, returning home around seven in the evening in order to wash dishes and do the laundry.

30000 years ago, a Chinese forager (hunter) might have camp with her companions at say eight in the morning. They would roam the nearby forests and meadows, gathering mushrooms, digging up edible roots, catching frogs, and occasionally running away from tigers. By early afternoons they were back at the camp to make lunch. That left them plenty of time to gossip, tell stories, play with the children, and just hand out.

Of course, the tigers sometimes caught them or a snake bit them, but on the other hand, they didn’t have to deal with automobile accidents and industrial pollution.”

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The pandemics and epidemics are a recent phenomenon when we humans have tried to domesticate the animals.

“Ancient foragers also suffered less from infectious diseases. Most of the infectious diseases that have plagued agricultural and industrial societies (such as smallpox, measles, and tuberculosis) originated in domesticated animals and transmitted to humans only after the agricultural revolution.

Moreover, most people in agricultural and industrial societies lived in dense, unhygienic permanent settlements – ideal hotbeds for the disease. (Do we the Corona affected pullulation needs to be told this?).  Foragers roamed the land in small bands that could not sustain epidemics.

The wholesome and varied diet, the relatively short working week, and the rarity of infectious disease have led many experts to define pre agriculture foragers societies as the ‘original affluent societies.”

The author also writes daily bath was is only a century-old practice.  When in the early 20th century the Plague epidemic has inflicted the word, European started to take bath daily as a hygiene initiative. They started social distancing which is still a part of European culture.

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Pandemics and Epidemics are teaching us how to live. Unless we face widespread deaths, we don’t behave.

Imagine the Pre pandemic world with the following attributes of living.

  1. Work from home
  2. Limited Office timing
  3. Staggered office timing
  4. Awareness about Body Immunity
  5. Time for exercise
  6. Healthy Eating
  7. Home Food
  8. Family Time
  9. Minimalist lifestyle
  10. Humility
  11. Realisation of Fragile-ness of life, hence overwhelming gratitude.

This would be an impossible and aspirational life for many. But this is a reality for many of us now. Why do we need Corona and Covid19 kinds of a pandemic to teach us how to live? Serious rethinking is necessary for how we live and how to live.

Keen to read Sapiens A Brief History of Humankind in times of Lockdown? (fascinating  read for everyone interested in human history of millions and thousands of years).

Click here


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