Saturday, 26th July 2014

Is Humanity Redefining Fate?


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The conspicuous differences in long-term histories of people living at separate continents have not been the result of innate diversities in people themselves but variances in their environments at different times. It is mostly the fate that determined the courses of human beings which resulted in unjustified disparities. Fortunately, human brain, in its evolutionary path, is becoming so sensible that it is redefining the destiny of unfortunates.

In his book “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, Jared Diamond, on the basis of scientific holdings on historical events, has tried to answer current inequalities in living standards of people residing in different parts of the world.

During transition from hunter-gatherers, the cultivation was favoring sedentary population with the production of more tonnage of food which in turn demanded agricultural tools and brawn from animals. Hence, besides poultry and domestication of small animals, food growers started domesticating bigger wild animals. But, all of them were not equally fortunate. The wild animals in South Africa comprising of untamable zebras, wildebeests, rhinos, hippos, giraffes and buffalo could not make a happy marriage with them in terms of animal's diet, growth rate, mating habits, disposition, tendency to panic, and distinct feature of social organization. Rhino mounted Bantu, according to Jared Diamond, could have overthrown the Roman Empire defining different historical trajectories for Africa, Europe, and others if luck had favored them.

After the domestication of wild plants and animals, the greater east-west span of Eurasia (similar geography and climatic condition) brought about the rapid diffusion and migration of crops and domesticated animals which nourished them better. The sedentary life then gradually equipped them with technologies and writings to outbreed, displace, conquer or kill off societies resisting change or innovation.

Unwittingly, resistant to animal diseases, the scourge of human society at that time, such as smallpox, flu, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, measles, and cholera, helped in European’s conquest of the Americans, South Africans, and Australians, when they breathed out these germs that killed majority of the aborigines leaving very few behind to be decimated by guns. The collision between the Europeans and South Africans produced tragedies which lasted for centuries with annihilation of Khoisans. The existing racial oppressions and homicides are also its ramifications. Also, about one century of European colonization with 10,000 years of technology swept away around 40,000 years of aboriginal traditions of Australia.

Various linguistic, cultural, and religious establishments greatly influenced its inhabitant’s behaviors. Among the Euroasians, Nepal and India’s caste system, China’s Confucian philosophy, and Muslim’s religious practices did more harm than good whereas Europeans who enjoyed relatively more luxury of freedom showed readiness to change and hence promoting inventors. Having treasure fleet (sailed between A.D. 1405 and 1433), China could have discovered new Worlds. However, the power struggles between powerful political figures suspended the fleets. In another occasion, during China's cultural revolution of 1960 – 1970, few injudicious leaders closed the school system for five years. Similarly, during Rana Dynasty who ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 to 1941, there were few schools only for Rana and Shah clans; commoners were deprived of education.

Jared Diamond indicated in his book that Arab nations were plagued by political repression, economic backwardness, oppression of women, widespread illiteracy, and self-imposed isolation from the world of ideas. Islamic civilization resisted the adoption of technology, literature, and ideology; no printing press was allowed as printing Koran in another language was considered an act of desecration. The reason might be to stop Koran to be wrongly interpreted when it got reprinted. During the middle ages, Islamic civilization was unquestionably more refined than Christendom but they blew it away and failed to experience Age of Reason, Enlightenment, and Humanitarian Revolution.

In north-south axis, there was slow spread of farming, herding, writings, and technology due to topographic difficulties and climatic conditions. Australia failed to receive anything from New Guinea and Indonesia being separated by the water mass. Its aridity, infertility, and climatic unpredictability became the reason behind only few hundred thousand hunter-gatherer population there before they were displaced by their invaders.

In his book, “The better angels of our Nature”, Steven Pinker has put forward scientific evidences of crime rates dwindling in our society though they are frequently sparked by media projecting grim picture. With time, the better angel in our brain is overpowering its other violent and evil faculties.

In Medieval times, torture was not just a kind of rough justice, a crude attempt to fend off violence with the threat of greater brutality. Also, it was included in sports and was girdled by superstitions.

In the modern west and most of the world, capital and corporal punishments have been thrown out. Government's power to supervise violence against perpetrators has been downsized, slavery has been overturned, and people have lost their bestiality. Everything happened in a short span of history, beginning in the Age of Reason in the 17th century cresting with the process of Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century. The change in sensibilities helped in sympathizing with fellow humans; not to be indifferent to their sufferings. The new ideology also placed high values on human life and happiness through humanism or human rights in the second half of the 18th century that impacted Western Life.

The counter humanitarian ideologies such as nationalism, patriotism, and sovereignty escalated into World Wars. During the age of ideology, democracy and communism fought against Nazism in World War II and then each other in cold war. After the deadliest wars, no nuclear weapons have been used in conflict by five great powers; also no fighting between two cold war superpowers. The psychological component of war might have changed the mentality of leaders and populace as evident by the 1948 endorsement of the Universal Declaration of Human rights by 48 countries.

Today, education has become pervasive and conscience has significantly evolved. So, humans are uniting to retrace the causation in order to help the developing countries which seem hopelessly conservative, inward looking, and opposed to change. This is the right time to expedite humanity support to each and every individual in the world realizing that being rich or poor was just the fluke; unfair consequences of the past. People who are poor today are not the decedents of the lazy, unintelligent, and non-inventive population. Therefore, we cannot leave any unfortunate behind. Together, we can redefine their fate by creating sustainable environment. Every child then gets whatever he/she is entitled to irrespective of the type of birth-family which then evades the question “Is it child’s fault to be born in a poverty-ravaged family being divested of rights?”.

Gajurel, a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Case Western Reserve University, USA, works as Computational Scientist at the same university. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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