Evolution: The Beginning And The End

Posted on February 13, 2011 in YKA Editorials

By Nitum Jain:

Evolution has never had any specific direction or meaning. A human being is born, lives its small lifetime and is finally laid to rest in deaths cradle. Is that it? Why is it necessary? What is the significance of this whole system? Many changes take place in the society in a person’s lifetime. Many discoveries are made; many customs and beliefs are broken or amended. Every person or every generation contributes something to their era and add to the legacy of their successors to be passed forward for further improvement.

That’s how Homo sapiens have lived through the Stone Age and become the 21st century humans that we are today. It was a long time ago since we had stopped being equated with Neanderthals. We have found means to make the impossible possible, a whole tiny world can be held in one’s hand. There is something that has been created to make simple every activity humans are involved in; we have phones, cars, computers and what not.  We have traveled from the discovery of fire, wheel and bronze to Blackberries and Large Hadrons Colliders.

This progress was due to many biological changes that took place in our race and the environment and also because of discoveries of various elements and phenomena provided by the earth, this leading to evolution of technology and a keener sense of what surrounds us which is only increasing in magnitude as the years go by.

Charles Darwin had put forward his ideas about the theory of evolution and natural selection in his book The Origin of Species almost 150 years ago. He emphasized on his theory of the survival of the fittest; the fittest being the one best adapted to its surroundings, thus having the capability to survive while the weaker perishes. Evolution has one basic rule, it is not synonymous with progress, it’s by natural selection that a being is chosen as fitter than its counterpart. Darwin’s ideas are widely spread and were roots of many other theories, many productive while many highly destructive. Adolf Hitler worked up the Holocaust on this very theory, claiming that the blonde blue-eyed Aryans were the ‘the fitter’ ones thus most eligible to live on the German land and massacring the weaker and ‘dirty race’ of the Jews to emphasize his point. The British colonizers carried out a similar but smaller ravaging process on the Native American land; Africa was soon raped as well.

However a pattern in the process of evolution can be identified which could help us to speculate the future, extrapolate the direction of evolutionary change and consider the possibilities opening up for future human evolution and development. This is our only hope in salvaging the continuity of the life we have today in the years to come.

Evolutionary development can be seen from various points of view, concluding different things and theories. In today’s school life on mundane basis, an athlete or a ‘jock’ comes higher than their intellectual classmates or ‘nerd’ in the hierarchy of the student body. An athlete may be physically fitter but at the same time the intellect is more developed in terms of his brain power. This at some point can contradict Darwin’s theory as both can’t be placed under one category thus can’t be proven better than the other overall. What one has, the other doesn’t and the world requires both kinds. So how should one judge?

This is a question that comes from the same bank of Unanswered Questions as the aforementioned ones. Unfortunately Darwin didn’t put such things in his book and thesis; he generally dealt with animals and such. In many places evolution can be easily interpreted and the results of natural selection can easily processed but at the same time there are many exceptions where the nature’s mysteries come into play and no sense could be made out of why one being should be fitter and which particular attributes are better than the other. Humans are the worst in this predicament for humans; with all their diversity they have made themselves comfortable in all kinds of environments yet some rise sky high while others barely exist in the throes.

As mentioned earlier, evolution has no direction, the technology and the society that has developed over the centuries due to the evolutionary changes have made man’s life easier, true, but at the same time it has created more devils in the world like weapons of mass destruction. The comfort our material needs are giving us is definitely very tempting and seems hard to give up but is also very precariously short lived. The acts of terrorism should be least expected from the beings born with the most developed brain within their craniums on the blue planet. Weapons were created in the name defence and Weapons of Mass Destruction were merely an intimidating gesture, both of these statements evidently proven wrong in the numerous wars and skirmishes that sprout like ugly welts on our history.

It’s very unlikely that earth can survive an encore of the World Wars, especially with the bigger and meaner weapons that are coming up everywhere. Yet the worst face of the whole issue is that the makers of such lethal devices are aware of the consequences but are unaffected by these hovering catastrophes. It almost makes one wonder, Are We Insane? Has Every One of Us Become Sadists All Of A Sudden?  The pace at which we are going today, standing on the brink of a Nuclear Armageddon and our destructive minds left to their own devices, any day could be the doomsday for our earth.

The highly-talked-about 9/11. The 26/11. The instability in Afghanistan. The blood trade in Africa. There are so many more examples of humanity on the verge of extinction; of human brain evolution in reverse and of madness of our kin.

There are many people who are aware that we have initiated the countdown to the Apocalypse by performing activities that are destroying our environment and are depleting all that has been provided by the earth. Global warming, pollution, scarcity of oil in the near future, wildlife extinction and holes in the ozone layer and other environmental concerns, however pressing they are, have bored us to death. This is because even though we see and know everything, there are only few who actually do something about it while the rest just acknowledge it as another fact on paper. A handful correcting their ways to accommodate the concern for the environment may be inspiring but it does little to actually be considered as sustainable development. It may certainly prolong the inevitable by a bit but to call off the whole problem requires involvement of all.

What we need is the moral evolution of the humans. Every human is made out of flesh and sinew thus they require the same amount of respect from other members of their specie. In today’s world, people of the same gene pool have little compassion for one another whereas for the future, preferably a Hopeful Future, we require to evolve into humans who put trust in their friends and family and are equally deserving of theirs. We need to retain our basic humanity and raise ourselves as global citizens.

Technology is evolving by the seconds but still our top scientists and human resource cannot figure out substitutes for the matter that is disappearing, they have unveiled cloning but they can’t bring back Dodos. Is our fate going to be similar to the extinct birds when the ozone layer is completely gone, roasting the planet in its wake or when the ice sheets liquefy and Tsunamis swallow us all. Dinosaurs were animals yet weren’t responsible for their end but we, the fitter race, are bringing it upon ourselves. We are fast becoming banes to our own existence.

The whole society that was brought up by mankind, all the customs, the traditions, the heritage and most of all, the history is getting lost. Our identity is fast disappearing along with our environment. Actions are required and that too quickly, the passé seeming terms such as sustainable development, environmental conservation and judicious use of the gifts of nature have to be put to use. The ‘talk’ is over and it’s time to ‘walk’, it’s time to shoulder our responsibilities as the guardians of our planet. Pollution of all kinds is nibbling on our existence day by day; population is not helping matters either. The process is going to be long and tedious but it’s necessary for the generations to come. We can make the earth work till the sun burns out; all it requires is everyone to develop the mindset of the common goal set up for us. To work towards it with all their heart, keeping aside our own personal choices and thinking like we are supposed to…

Like the most evolved beings to walk on this earth.

Image courtesy.

The writer is the Sub-Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz. Write to the author at nitumjain[at]youthkiawaaz[dot]com.