Are We Becoming Whales with Legs?
Obviously, whales don’t have legs, or do they? Studies have shown that whales once walked on land, and presumably entered back into the water in search for food or maybe because they were too physically large and an aquatic environment better supported their weight. They eventually lost their legs, a tell tale sign of evolution. However, once in a while, an unsuspecting scientist comes across a whale that has grown it’s legs back, in the water! Imagine that! We can see evolution in nature and comprehend how it works; but virtually no one can imagine it going in the opposite direction. If “Dollo’s Law” is indeed true, how can we explain a whale with legs or a human with a tail? Haven’t species long passed on these traits and phenotypes for more desirable ones based on natural selection? The undeniable truth is that DNA is a complex structure that often retains the coded genes that we shared with our ancestors, albeit not expressed in current times. Human embryos still have tails even though they disappear before childbirth.
These examples of atavism are obviously physical, but are there any implications on our intellectual evolution as humans? Our interaction with each other and nature has indisputably caused evolution of the mind, thinking, and society. We have come a long way from cavemen and troglodytes, haven’t we? Cesare Lombroso, an Italian criminologist of the late 1800s and founder of The Italian School of Positivist Criminology, used eugenics, psychiatry, and social Darwinism to hypothesize that crime wasn’t really a part of modern human nature but a regression or “throwback” to a primitive ancestor. He believed this so much that he attempted to prove that these traits appear in a criminal’s physiology. Much of his research has been proven to be erroneous yet his posits still exist as certain distasteful stereotypes are associated with social atavisms. These theories are used by societies to justify why some races or groups of people are criminalized in higher proportions than others, attempting to tie them to their more primitive ancestors moreso than analyzing socio-economic or other psychological factors. These theories and the pseudo scientists that back them have created policies in regards to how entire groups are treated, imagining that a person who commits a criminal or aggressive act to be a “throwback” to barbarism and should be separated from society. Many of these individuals were responsible for today’s prison system and asylum standards.
It appears that the concept of social atavism challenges free will, thought, and human choice. We all have access to a wide range of emotions. Some men are more sensitive or intellectual while some may be more aggressive or brutish. Personally, I think this is all completely normal as a part of the human condition. However, there is something to consider here. When it comes to displays of character socially, it seems that our society may have reverted or regressed, expressed in some individual’s actions and behaviors. Many of us have witnessed people who use slang so heavily that they communicate with sounds and monosyllabic words similar to a caveman’s grunts and gestures. Some wear their clothes in a way that inhibits their movement, appearing to walk with a waddle. Many people avoid human interactions as simple as saying “hey, how are you?” or offering help to a stranger in exchange for headphones and impersonal lifestyles. Does this in its own way corroborate the concept of social atavism in these individuals? It definitely damages and inhibits the progress towards being a true gentleman, leader, and nobleman of society. If we are to progress, we must improve our society through encouraging better displays of humanity.
The prison industry benefits from the concept of social Darwinism and atavism; the more prisoners, the more it appears the powers that be are making us safer, profiling and separating “criminals” from the rest of “normal” people in the world. Does a person’s thoughts and brainwave patterns change as a result of their outward behaviors? Does our DNA really dictate that we are to become violent, unfit members of society? Are some of us really reverting back to the primitive ways of our ancestors before civilization?
As an individual, you can choose to be a product of your environment or a creator of your world. Being on the path towards being a better gentleman, you have the opportunity to improve yourself and society as a whole. Doesn’t it give you a deep sense of accomplishment and connection to the world when you do something with the greater good in mind? Or do you enjoy exemplifying the characteristics of a “regressed male”? When you do an act of goodwill, doesn’t the universe respond to you positively? What impression do you want to have on the children of our future? Aren’t we better as a society when we solve problems together instead of on our own? Without eachother, many discoveries would never exist. You could put me on an island for 100 years and I wouldn’t be able to invent a computer but now we have internet, smart phones, and devices that put the first super computer to shame. Collective evolution is a very important aspect of our individual success, so de-evolution of the individual mind stands the chance to completely undo our progress as a society. Being a better gentleman unlocks your mind, true potential, and effectiveness in society and no matter who you are, you can disprove the notion of social atavism and the idea that some of us have become caveman again and are therefore useless to the modern world around us.
So how do you become a better gentleman?