No, we haven’t “evolved beyond that”.

Evolution? Humans? (Cue laugh track)

On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard would frequently solemnly pronounce how 24th Century humanity had “evolved” beyond its primitive ways and means.  Shortly after that, he would demonstrate how humans hadn’t changed at all.  This was especially there in First Contact, as he tells Lily Sloan how he doesn’t hate,. And proceeds to murder Borg, including a former crewmate, in a paroxysm of rage.

We are the proudest bunch of apes, we are.

What is the reality?

Other than human hubris, this notion of evolution seems to be rather misunderstood. Perhaps misapplied. Our technology has improved from when we used to bash each others heads in with rocks and sticks. Humans as such haven’t changed since we were hunter-gatherers clustered about the newly discovered technology of Fire. Some social means have also changed, but we are ever in danger of backsliding. We don’t do chattel slavery any more (or do we?), but we could easily do so.

It has been said (by Ambrose Bierce) that a Conservative (is one who is) enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Other smart-alec comments include that the Progressivist believes without question in the malleability and perfectibility of Man and Society and the Conservative is scared shatless that we not only haven’t evolved but are still subject to Dark Forces urging us to self-immolation.  The verdict of history bears down heavily on the side of the Conservative, all things considered.

Which is not to say that we haven’t changed, perhaps a little, for the better.  But it is a case of three steps forward, two steps back.  Heartbreaking, but there it is. We have to try to better ourselves, it is in our nature to do so.  But with proper precaution, prudentially taking baby steps most of the time, because contrary to the armchair theorists, we really do not have a reliable map of the Future to guide us.  What we do have is a guiding star, a direction, and a compass. Proceed, with caution.

Because outside our ken is terra incognita, and Here Be Dragons!

Out latest social advance is only as strong as tot topmost layer of skin, and the most recent childbirth. To say we are only one generation away from going back into the trees is a cliché. But it is very true.

The word I am looking for here is prudence.

We naked apes can be very good, we can perform the most unbelievable acts of kindness, we can reach for the Stars, both physically and spiritually, we can live up to almost every one of our aspirations, but when we are bad, we are horrid. Looking back over the last 200 years (only), we have cause both for realistic pride, and realistic shame. It has been said (by Mark Twain?) that mankind is the only animal which can blush – – or needs to.

Perhaps we should set our sights on what is local, what is within our grasp, what we can actually do. Rather than loving mankind and hating people, maybe we can carry some spare bills (fives and up, please) for the next person we standing on a corner, holding up a cardboard sign asking for help? Perhaps we can donate for the hungry and homeless other than at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Perhaps we can get up off our dead butthurts and give some of our precious time (spent wasted on the Internet) and volunteer for something unpleasant and grimy, with people who smell badly?

Perhaps we can make manifest those things which we claim to cherish, whether ideals of religion or ideals of nation or ideals of family? Perhaps.

Perhaps someday, we will have “evolved”.