The first time ever I saw your faceEwan Maccoll, Songwriter; Singer Roberta Flack
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and the endless skies
A week ago our third grandchild, named Walker by his proud parents Justin and Tracy, entered the world. At 2 days old, he was holding his head up and staring at us with his dark blue eyes. On one of the final days Walker spent in the hospital, the megalomaniacal dictator that is leading Russia, Vladimir Putin, sent his army to invade neighboring Ukraine. One era ended and another began, but we do not yet know where this act of war will lead as Putin reminds us that he has nuclear weapons. As if we could forget.
Life and Death stretch themselves across our planet with Russia’s army continuing to pour into Ukraine to kill and maim. For one man’s ego, for one man’s gain. How can the whole planet be at risk for one very short man’s ambition to be God? He seeks to repaint the past, paint out the ending of the Soviet Union, and reclaim his country’s empire that once included countries flattened under Joseph Stalin’s boot in the wake of World War II.
Our former president would like to be Putin and praises his actions as the majority of the Western world condemns Putin’s senseless brutality at invading Ukraine on false pretenses. We can only thank our lucky stars that our former president is not president now, or there would be no American-led coalition standing together to sanction Russia.
I have been reading the history of our species, Homo sapiens, in Yuval Noah Harari’s magisterial book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. In this book, Professor Harari shares theories for how our species of humans prevailed and all the other species, such as Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo erectus, and Homo rudolfensis, went extinct. He mentions our unique language as being a prime factor in our rise, since we Homo sapiens could organize in a way not possible by our sibling humans who had lesser language skills.
He also mentions the ruthless behavior of our species may have played a factor in the demise of the other humans.
Another possibility is that competition for resources flared up into violence and genocide. Tolerance is not a Sapiens trademark. In modern times, a small difference in skin color, dialect or religion has been enough to prompt one group of Sapiens to set about exterminating another group.Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 2015
We are human animals with, apparently, a genetic predisposition to divide and conquer. But unlike other animals we tend to kill our own kind in vast, unfathomable numbers. How we can continue to despoil our planet and destroy our fellow humans and continue to, as Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock famously said, to “Live long and prosper”? We cannot. As Dr. Harari writes:
The more eastern regions of Asia were populated by Homo erectus, ‘Upright Man’, who survived there for close to 2 million years, making it the most durable human species ever. This record is unlikely to be broken even by our own species. It is doubtful whether Homo sapiens will still be around a thousand years from now, so 2 million years is really out of our league.Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
For the sake of my grandchildren, the children of Ukraine, and the children throughout the world, I hope we adults can find a better way for short men to prove their prowess and a better way for sociopaths who run countries to prove their manhood. And I hope our own country will find a way to deal with, as Dr. Harari writes, “a small difference in skin color”. As Americans we have already fought a civil war over our inability to see Black people as humans. May we find a way to see that we are all humans regardless of the language we speak, the color of our skin, the God we pray to, the sex of our birth, or our sexual orientation.
The great Bahamian-American actor Sidney Poitier died recently. He was a Black man who stood out from his peers of all skin colors and won an Academy Award in 1964 for the film Lilies of the Field. When he emigrated to the U.S. from the Bahamas, he could barely speak English. In a few short years, he spoke the language in a way that moved people even in a more racist time period than our own. His advice was:
Be true to yourselves and be useful to the journey.Sidney Poitier, 1992 (1927-2022)
So no matter whether Homo sapiens last on our planet for a thousand years, or a few hundred years more, we the people who care about children and beauty and nature and love and creativity and lifting up the fallen must be useful to our journey so the little feet that come after us will know which way they are to go.
~ Anna // 2-28-2022