Apes to Humans — Humans to Better Humans – What’s Next?

Posted on September 25, 2010 in Specials

By Geetika Vasudeva:

I am sure everyone at least once in their life time must have picnicked at a Zoo. Yes, I am talking about the times when we used to pack our badminton rackets, frisbees, fruits and the other picnic paraphernalia together and wait excitedly in our cars wanting our dads to drive as soon as possible. (Yes, talking about the days when being with parents the entire day seemed fun!) Well, assuming that everyone has seen a Zoo at least one, I further believe that you must have also enjoyed watching the large varieties of monkeys and chimpanzees present there. (On second thoughts, I did not have to go that far, thanks to us; the probability of finding a monkey in your verandah is dangerously high than spotting it in a sanctuary or a zoo). Anyway, coming back to the point, standing in the front of the animal, have you really thought what separates you from the creature apart from the cage and the six inches – well, six million years of evolution!

So, the only thing that makes us look and behave a tad better than that animal in the cage is evolution. For people who have not always come out with flying colours in their Biology exams, evolution is nature’s way of improving a living being biologically so that it can adapt well to its environment. As we all know, human beings have originated from apes. Some million years ago, the species Homo sapiens came into existence and it spent the next few hundred years, exploring and fighting the environment and establishing a comfort zone for itself. Gradually, when their basic requirements started getting fulfilled, a need for association was felt, thus, giving birth to society and civilizations and subsequently to a culture.

Have you ever tried questioning yourself as to why do we need a culture? From what I think, it’s human’s way of disciplining himself. We have ourselves formulated a set of rules and developed a code of conduct which pretty much defines the way we live our lives.

Like humans, our culture has also undergone transformation and is still evolving. Imagine the times when a boy and a girl, if seen together, were ostracized, when a girl smoking or drinking was a heinous crime and when homosexuality was an alien concept. So are we today, completely distancing ourselves from our roots? While the answer might vary from person to person, what I think is that we are facing a cultural evolution. Like natural evolution has enabled us to survive and live our lives in a better way, we are also constantly changing our rules to lead better lives. Some people might call it Western influence or some might name it progress, the truth is today’s human being has altered the definitions of his rights and wrongs and these definitions are also subjective.

Amidst all this, a rational human being still considers certain human acts as wrong, like rape, homicide, theft etc and probably will always classify them as something wrong. Or so it seems. Which further brings a couple of questions in my mind. will there ever come a time when we would classify such human acts as right? And the second and the scarier thought, what if these acts were from the beginning always considered to be right. As in a way these activities might help in the sustenance of an individual. Survival of the Fittest, eh? Scary isn’t it?!