How Long Ago Was Evolution?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

A while back, I wrote a blog that asked, “How long ago was history?”  Evolution, like history, is continuous.  It didn’t just happen sometime in the past. We get so wrapped up in arguments about where we came from that it’s easy to lose sight of where we’re going.  Yes, we’re continuing to evolve… or at least we’d better be.

Darwin’s theory was that evolution, something observed long before he wrote Origin of the Species, results from a process he called Natural Selection.  It’s very simple.  We all have different characteristics, and we’re all competing for survival.  Those whose survive long enough to pass on their traits contribute to the process of evolution.  Those who die too young or don’t reproduce do not.

Evolution doesn’t necessarily make us smarter, stronger or better.  It simply helps us survive in an ever-changing world, something human beings, until now, have done remarkably well.

Our survival and expansion, however, have exacerbated the change in the world.  We live in increasingly crowded conditions, and we rely more and more on technology that has had its own impact on our environment.  The better we perform in this dance of life, it seems, the more difficult the dance becomes.

The challenges to our survival are all around us, climate change, the threat of nuclear war, religious extremism, bigotry.  Most recently our attention has turned to violence, in particular “gun violence.”  Violence, however, is a much bigger issue.  It includes sexual violence and terrorism as well.

I don’t know the answers to these existential threats, but of two things I’m deeply convinced.  One is that no individual is going to solve these issues, nor is government intervention a long-term solution.  The second is that there’s no quick fix, no matter how much we won’t to believe there is.

The bigger the issue, the more important it is for all of us to get involved in the discussion.  This requires careful consideration for the views of others, built on mutual respect for our humanity.  It requires the participation of everyone, regardless of gender, skin color, religion, or any of the things we let divide us.  It requires a willingness to express our own ideas without rejecting, out of hand, those of others.