Unfortunately, the Sapiens’ regime on earth has so far produced a little that we can be proud of. We have mastered our surroundings, increased food production, built cities, established empires and created far-flung trade networks. But did we decrease the amount of suffering in this world?
Is there anything more dangerous than dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?
What am I talking about?
Book: Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind
Author: Yuval Noah Harari
No. of pages: 498
Published by: Vintage Books (London)
Reading history and related stuffs (I am not good at remembering dates though) bestow upon me immense pleasure. This book which is based on the evolution of humans to the present state was something that was revealing, shocking and breath-taking at times. Even though we are far ahead of our forebearers, the genus Homo in Africa, we still have no hint where we are heading towards. It seems to be an aimless and hopeless wandering. More of like a pie, the share may differ but the size of the pie remains unvarying. If at all one day the share becomes equal, then comes the extinction, everything which had a beginning has an end too.
Trust me, this one will be one of the most captivatinginvestments you could possibly make, of your time. It’s always favourable and a congenial occurrence to go after the roots to see how the dirt yield such a fragrance of pride to our present state of affairs.
About the Author
This guy specializes in world history. His research focuses on broad questions such as:
What is the relationship between history and biology?
Is there justice in history?
Did people become happier as history unfolded?
He has a PhD in History from the University of Oxford and now lectures at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Some interesting facts from the book
You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven. But why is it important? Well, after all, fiction can be dangerously misleading or distracting. People who go to the forest looking for fairies and unicorns would seem to have less chances of survival than people who go looking for mushrooms and deer. And if you spend hours praying to non-existent guardian spirits, aren’t you wasting precious time, time better spent foraging, fighting and fornicating?
Voltaire said about God that ‘There is no god, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murders me at night.’
A single priest often does the work of a hundred soldiers, far more cheaply and effectively.
The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud. Who was responsible? Neither Kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa.
Haunting and unsettling specifics
The natives of Tasmania, having survived for 10,000 years in splendid isolation were completely wiped out, to the last man, woman and child, within a century of Cook’s (Captain James Cook, an experienced sea-man as well as an accomplished geographer and ethnographer) arrival. European settlers first drove them off the richest parts of the island, and then, coveting even the remaining wilderness, hunted them down and killed them systematically. The few survivors were hounded into an evangelical concentration camp, where well-meaning but not particularly open-minded missionaries tried to indoctrinate them in the ways of the modern world. The Tasmanians were instructed in reading and writing, Christianity and various productive skills such a sewing clothes and farming. But they refused to learn. They became more melancholic, stopped having children, lost all interest in life, and finally chose the only escape route from the modern world of science and progress – death.
Even afterlife, science and progress pursued them. The corpses of the last Tasmanians were seized in the name of science by anthropologists and curators. They were dissected, weighed and measured, and analysed in learned articles. The skulls and skeletons were then put on display in museums and anthropological collections. Only in 1976 did the Tasmanian Museum give up for burial of the skeleton of Truganini, the last native Tasmanian, who had died a hundred years earlier. The English Royal College of Surgeons held on to the samples of her skin and hair until 2002.
My takeaway from the book
No to meat (Chicken, Mutton, Beef, Pork), that’s what my take away from this book. The incident which I read was unsettling and is the very reason to avoid meat. I also remember this was even in practice at my native. During my childhood days I had witnessed it without any emotional baggage.
The dairy/meat industry has its own ways of forcing animals to do its will. Cows, goats and sheep produce milk only after giving birth to calves, kids and lambs, and only as long as the youngsters are suckling. To continue a supply of animal milk, a farmer needs to have calves, kids and lambs for suckling, but must prevent them from monopolizing the milk. One common method throughout history was to simply slaughter the calves and kids shortly after birth, milk the mother for all she was worth, and then get her pregnant again.
Another method is to keep the calves and kids near their mothers but prevent them by various stratagems from suckling too much milk. The simplest way to do that is to allow the kid or calf to start suckling, but drive it away once the milk start flowing. This method usually encounters resistance from both kid and mother. Some sheep tribes used to kill the offspring, eat its flesh, and then stuff the skin. The stuffed offspring was then presented to the mother so that its presence would encourage her milk production.
A new word I learned from this book – IGNORAMUS.
The great discovery that launched the Scientific Revolution was the discovery that humans do not know the answers to their most important questions. Pre-modern tradition of knowledge such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism asserted that everything that is important to know about the world was already known.
I hope you read this book and get to know more about yourselves.