Personal Health

The Future History of the Two Human Races: A Parable

Things are not looking good for the long haul...

Photo Credit: stickerama / Shutterstock.com

There turned out to be two races of humans, not based on ethnic origin or creed, but on adaptive strategy. When times got tough, the species split. One regressed toward brute strategies, the other toward attempts to reason out solutions that work for the long haul.

Both species were human, of course, which meant there was brutishness in them both as there always had been. But one species leaned and settled into brutishness while the other strained to curb that part of its human nature.

For a while, it was hard to tell the two races apart. Since brutishness had always been there, both races expressed it. Since reason had been the norm at the time of the split, the brutish race pretended it was expressing that side, that it was reasoning when it was not.

They got away with pretending because brutishness had earlier gotten dressed up in the language of reason. It was no longer grunting, chest-beating and howling.

And the reasonable reasoned that it would be better long-term if they were open to all voices. They tried to embrace and accommodate the increasingly brutish race. They tried to be tolerant, hoping it would be reciprocated.

It wasn't. With the brutish race, there was no give and take. The brutish humans pretended to reason that there shouldn't be. "No compromise!" they grunted.

Finally the reasonable realized it was a battle, not a collaboration. So they retaliated against the brutes. The brutes cried, "Foul! You're being unreasonable." It became very hard to tell the races apart.

The races never split biologically. There wasn't enough time for that. One might argue that they were two cultures occupying the same planet, but it wasn't merely cultural differences. It ran deeper than that, one race taking any cheap shot it could, the other struggling against its partial nature to remain reasonable.

Over time, the differences became more pronounced, which is why we now think of humans as two races.

As the enthusiastically brutish population grew, resources grew scarce—as they would with all that unchecked appetite. Fighting over what few resources remained, the brutes eliminated the reasonable. With force and a willingness to use it, they naturally had the upper hand.

But then, of course, the brutes didn't last. They didn't adapt well. You can't be short-sighted for long. Natural selection eliminates you.

More than they ever realized, the race they had killed off so victoriously–the people straining to find rational long-term solutions–were the ones who kept things running as long as they had. 

Jeremy E. Sherman, a contributor to Psychology Today, is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision-making. 

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
[x]
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Activism
Drugs
Economy
Education
Environment
Food
Media
World