In the swirling motion of twenty first century life, it is often hard to comprehend that despite how much we have changed our world, we are the same human beings that we were thousands of years ago. When I realized this, I was led to think about the idea of superiority among humans, and how the ways in which human beings express their supposed superiority are actually representative of this ancient human nature.
For example, one of the most obvious ways in which people build this higher image is clothing. Because animals do not wear clothes, the fact of wearing clothing has become something that humans use to differentiate themselves from animals. Because of this, clothing eventually turned into a mark of supremacy among humans. This was seen when Western man encountered the tribal peoples of countries near the equator, where too much clothing was more a hindrance than any help. The Western people were quick to call the people here “savages” and “animals’. At the time, people from the West wore a rather excessive amount of clothing, to the point of being uncomfortable in hotter climates. Though we may call this silly nowadays, this does reflect on our human nature, and how clothing impacts the human perceptions of each other.
Using clothing to denote superiority is a tactic used since the ancient days of kings in silken robes, and pharaohs in gilded headdresses. Although the rich today use slightly more subtle differences in clothing (i.e. high quality suits from a brand name vs. comparatively lower quality suits that regular people wear) to indicate superiority, the effect is still the same. This is interesting to me, because the hoity toity people who show off their Armani suits thinking that they are in some way superior are really just putting into practice the ancient, primitive idea that clothing is a mark of superiority. Beneath our clothing, we are all just the same Homo sapiens, and that is what matters most.
The use of fancy clothing to denote superiority is only one aspect of human behavior that has been constant throughout our history. The fact is, despite the modern notions of being special and advanced and something better than the rest of the animal kingdom, we are no more advanced than we were before. We tend to look upon tribal humans and the humans of ages past as lesser. We call them uncivilized, a word that has an unnecessary negative connotation. The fact is, despite the advancements in our technology, and the changes we’ve made to our world, we are still the same human beings with the same brains and tendencies as those from ages before us.
Think about it this way: if you were to take the average human being, and strip them of all the knowledge they learned in school, and then put them in the wilderness with a couple of other people who had also been stripped of their prior knowledge, they would behave pretty much like the humans did in the days of hunter-gatherers, when life was all about survival. They would probably figure out how to make fire, and how to make clothes, and how to build a shelter. They would not be figuring out how to build skyscrapers or atomic weapons or rockets that land on the moon. They wouldn’t be, because the only reason we can do that now is because we are standing on the shoulders of all of the men and women of generations before us, whose small individual works of intellectual progress have brought us this far, into the advancement of modernity.
But despite this all, as humans ourselves, we are still the same as we were a thousand years ago, wild animals ruled by a primordial instinct and filled with the living energy that spun this world into motion.
We are, at our core, the same as we have always been. We like to think we’ve changed, or become better as civilization progressed, but we haven’t. The human ethos has been constant, as it will be until the end.