There has been a lot written lately about whether mankind improved when we became “civilized” or whether we were better off as hunter gatherers.  It seems hunter gatherers stayed healthier, had a more varied diet and were less dangerous to the remainder of the environment.

Agriculture has been blamed for many of the problems that humanity has.  In fact, Jared Diamond called it The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.

Yanomami are among the Last Independent People

To succeed at agriculture, we became much more social.  But was it agriculture that made us social or was it fully embracing interdependence?

All the hunter gatherer types were independent souls.  They could go off into the wild in a group of four or five or even alone and survive for weeks at a time.

Today most people cannot survive independently.  We are a shadow of our ancestors in this way.  That’s why we watch Survivor reality shows like Bear Grylls in Man vs. Wild or even season after season of Survivor itself.

Basic independence and surviving without relying on other people has become an exotic skill set from a basic life need in only a couple hundred years.  Who among us can walk into the woods and survive for more than a few days.  I was once lost in the woods of northern British Columbia for three days and I can confirm, that was pretty much my limit for being out there by myself.

In our society, being without outside contact almost never happens.  We are within reach of radio, television, cell phone, newspaper, manufactured goods, processed foods, and all the symptoms of an interdependent life.

Even the back to the woods people in Alberta and Montana do so wearing store bought clothes and shooting store ought guns.

We all rely on interdependence.  As soon as people starting living in settlements, we shared and specialized.  There is no turning back from our more and more intense socialization.

But maybe in this way we are superior.  We have had to learn to get along with other people.  It has been a rocky road with a lot of disagreements, call them wars, along the way.

The hurdle to get over is trusting other people that we have to be interdependent with.

According to recent studies, that ability to trust has now evolved us physically. Our brain can now cope with a large complex number of relationships.  We are almost totally dependent on others in most things we do.  Certainly, we have a little free will in our choices.  But the complex inter-connectivity of our lives leaves us a species of Blanche Duboises “‘always depending on the kindness of strangers.”  Okay most times we are relying on the self interest of strangers; but depend we do.

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