My feet are getting finicky.
I’ve been having dreams of getting away again, somewhere far from pavement and pollution. Maybe somewhere with saline waters.
I wish I could go on a trip–however, business school is taking up 6 days a week, clocking at 30 hours of work a day. (Not exaggerating. I didn’t know this was possible, until AIM).
And… my passport is currently held on bond by the parents. #trustissues
I don’t have much of a choice, but to take my studies seriously.
So I peruse some requisite brain food on my bedside—Scharmer, Picketty, among other economists—not exactly easy, bedtime readings… unless your end-goal is to fall fast asleep.
One common thread of thought today put a brunt of the blame of today’s current problems and negative externalities on the Industrial Revolution and Modern Capitalism… which I agree to a certain extent; but with reservation.
Instead I have anti-progressivist views and leans towards this proposition: that mankind’s worst ‘mistake’ was agriculture.
Man: Slave to Wheat
This synthesis sounds somehow anti-progressivist. The Agricultural Revolution is touted as the ‘greatest leap forward’ for humanity. Now we have less time thinking about our survival and can finally produce sustenance at our will. Now we have more time to devote to other things—art, culture, commerce, and coitus (explaining the massive human population explosion).
Diamond and Harari pointed otherwise. Agriculture left farmers with life more miserable and less satisfying than hunter-gatherers, in fact. Agriculture led to greed; and lust for the greener grass on the other side.
But it was wheat that domesticated humans, and not the other way around. During our hunter-gatherer times, humans had a more well-balanced diet. Wheat was only a marginal part of the nomad’s diet, they relied on a hundred variety of foods. The farmer’s diet is poor in minerals and vitamins (and bad for your oral health).
The heavy calorie reliance on wheat comes at a price. We have grazed forests to make way for wheat crops. Wheat demanded a lot of our time—and humans had to permanently settle next to the wheat fields. As human bodies were built to climb trees and run after deer, farming led to arthritis, hernia, and other problems to our spine, neck and knees.
It’s difficult to materialize the concept especially as we now enjoy the affluence built on the foundations of the Agricultural Revolution.
Were We Really Happier than Before?
Another era of humankind arose: emergence of social classes, wealth inequality, obsession to gold, violent wars, cities and eventual empires that led to another problem: overpopulation and disease-ridden settlements.
This relationship between man and wheat is classic Faust: hardship in pursuit for an easier life, when we gave up that easy life in the first place.
During our nomadic lifestyle days, we lived on the road in constant search for food and security from predators and natural calamities. The prehistoric caveman is typically stereotyped as a grunting imbecile, but they were actually smarter than we think—from navigating through the stars to creating weapons from flint. They have a deeper knowledge and connection with the surroundings. Most modern men may know calculus, analytics and IT infrastructures, but leave them stranded in nature and they would not know batshit on how to survive.
We have Google. The cavemen didn’t.
The hunter-gatherers had an ideal, nutritious diet—archaeological evidence show that they were less likely to suffer from malnutrition, starvation. A lot of infectious diseases came from the Agricultural Revolution, due to crowded settlements and unhygienic situations.
In fact, skeletons show that the prehistoric nomads were taller and healthier than their farming descendants. The average height of ancient hunter-gatherers was at 6-ft.—but dramatically decreased to 5’2 ft. when farming began. It is only in the last century that the average height has returned similar to that of the ancient foragers’ time.
On average, a typical Filipino employee works 48-60 hours a week to survive, but we find that hunter-gatherer tribes living in the same prehistoric fashion work as little as 35 hours a week, hunt 3 days a week. They have no chores, errands or bills to pay. The rest of the time they are free to spend socializing with the tribe in dance, music and storytelling.
Homo sapiens would never have championed if it weren’t for the Agricultural Revolution. Were humans designed to be confined in a four-corner room to sit and work in a desk? E.g., to manage shareholders’ equities in crisp Armani business suits? To work long hours in your cubicle, and see your children grow up not knowing you anymore?
Cases of wanderlust not unfounded—they are screams calling out for our hunter-gatherer spirit. The claustrophobic urban jungle can do funny things to the human psyche—the plethora of mental conditions and psychosis weren’t present 12,000 years ago. Cavemen certainly didn’t have to go to a shrink back then.
I grew up in a beautiful island, left for the big city to pursue my dreams, to work my ass off for several years, save enough money so I can retire and move to some recluse island and spend the rest of my life in paradise.
Oh. How ironic.
Typing this frantically from a corner cubicle, maybe we all still dream of open fields and stalking around with a spear on hand.