Monday, March 9, 2009
It takes A Village
Last night I was watching a show on ancient architecture. I love ancient history, it fascinates me much more than recent history. They were discussing monolithic structures. As usual the scientists and archaeologists interviewed on the show questioned how and why these structures were made because some of them are pretty amazingly sophisticated in their construction. They inevitably had to go to the weird explanations of levitation or alien intervention. I find that to be a little insulting to our ancestors to be honest. I think they had the capacity to figure out how to do it and execute it through simple hard work and ingenuity.
There is a weird perception that ancient man wasn't as intelligent as we are today. I am not sure I agree with that. I do believe our brains have evolved to be able to process a lot more simultaneous information at a time because we are bombarded with it, and we certainly have more technology, but I don't believe that human beings were ever stupid on the whole. Someday future societies may look back on us and think we were pretty primitive and not very intelligent too. I am sure ancient man had as many great thinkers as we have today, but they are lost into the misty void of a history that had very little written text to record their impact on the world. Luckily we still see their mark because they built these amazing landmarks to record their having been here.
One archaeologist on the show questioned the ability of a certain tribe to build these incredible structures in part of the world because he said they would have all had to have been master stone masons. I was fascinated with the precision that these were built, but I personally don't find that so amazing. In our current society we have all become masters of many things, like driving cars for example. They said that some of these methods couldn't even be replicated today. I am sure that's true, simply because we wouldn't take the time to do it. Ancient man didn't have to go to meetings, pick up the kids from school and take them to soccer practice or go to the gym, so he had time to focus on perfecting his stone masonry skills.
They questioned why these people always built such huge monuments. They had all sorts of theories again, some of which were rather odd and convoluted. I think the answer is very simple.
Imagine for a moment if you will that we didn't have cars, planes, the internet, TV, newspapers, shopping malls, microwaves, curling irons, and a whole host of other things that make our lives very easy and connect us together, thus making this a small planet. The world would suddenly be a much larger, intimidating and difficult place.
As I type this, it occurs to me that within moments of my posting it...it can be read by people all around the world. I have readers from some pretty far off places. We can interact, become friends and have conversations without ever leaving the comfort of our own homes and crossing oceans. In fact I wouldn't have the chance to meet many of the people who read my blog, or I read theirs if it weren't for the internet. That's a pretty amazing thing that brings us all closer together.
But ancient man didn't have that option. The world was huge and intimidating and he felt a need to leave his mark on it. I believe they wanted to prove they were not so insignificant. I think we have all wanted to believe that since humanity began because it helps us feel as if our lives hold a larger meaning.
Also since he didn't have all those things to distract him, he had a lot more time to devote to building things. We have heard the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" but I think back then it took a village working together as a community to be able to do pretty much everything. If they didn't work together and have a close knit society they didn't survive.
In modern society we don't have that same sense of community. Very rarely does an entire city come together in a combined force to make something happen because we don't need to. When it does happen it makes the news because it's such a rare occurrence. We live in a "me" generation because we can focus on ourselves and our families thanks to all the conveniences we have.
I think coded somewhere deep into our DNA we still have the need for that village mentality though. Since we no longer have that need to work together to survive on a day to day basis, we have to create our own communities so that we have that sense of belonging.
On a personal level, I miss the community we used to have in the bear world from when we gathered for a common goal at bear shows. So I decided to create my own community for bear artists in the form of Mohair Divas and my own monument in the form of my website which gave me a great sense of accomplishment to build. There are lots of social groups and clubs online and in the real world. I believe that we still need a village to survive in this world and since we don't get it from our cities, we have to find ways to create that feeling for ourselves.
Even though we don't build massive structures because we have so many other things to spend our time and energy on, we still need to build relationships with each other. We need that human interaction to know that we are alive and that we matter, and we need to find a community to build on so that we can leave our mark on the world.
I think it still takes a village to raise a well rounded child, and we need to come together in that village to stay well rounded as adults. We still have the need to build things together. No man is an island. But I have to wonder, if he was isolated on one...what would he do? Would he build giant statues like they did on Easter Island to leave his mark on the world?