Adaptability is what allowed us humans to exist and prosper throughout the ages. Few million years ago our forefathers were amongst other species of apes that used to live in Africa. Studies show now that even our brain at the time was the same size of that of a chimpanzee. The major difference was the humans’ level of adaptability. Firstly, about getting food. Then in creating tools and lately in technological innovation.
Our forefathers got off the trees and adapted to hunting large animals and gather fruits and vegetables. They were so successful in this that they brought to near extinction most of large animals that existed at the time. The scarcity of large animals created an evolutionary pressure and they had to adapt to hunting medium and small animals. They excelled in this too. So much so that also these animals became scarcer.
They had then to adapt again to this evolutionary pressure of not having enough food and expand out of Africa into the middle east, Asia and Europe in their search for food. In these new territories they had to adapt to some colder climate and the need for clothes and fire. The time came that their growing numbers could not be sustained any more by hunting and gathering and agriculture was born. The hunters started growing herds and the gatherers became farmers. This was a giant leap in adapting to a changing scenario.
Adaptability therefore is a great blessing. We are the most adaptable species on earth, and we are the big winners of the evolutionary game. Yet this unique journey of adaptability was in a way over successful and led to the extinction of many species and to a threat for the future of life on this planet.
So, the unique human capability to adapt has within it not just blessings but also a curse. The main curse of adaptability is that we, humans can adapt to almost everything. We can adapt to terrible mangers. We can adapt to evil dictators. We can adapt to bad marriages. We can adapt to living closed at home with no access to nature. we can adapt to bad relationship.
We can adapt to almost any condition natural or not.
This adaptability curse leads people to live poor, miserable lives.
But most people suffer the curse of adaptability too. To adapt to living in non- human conditions has a lot of psychological toll. To live far from your loved ones and give up on close intimate relationship is not humane. To adapt to following confused sometimes even weird regulations of frightened governments cannot lead to anything good. The level of trust between people and their governments is at all times low. People and especially their children will pay high price for years for how they adapted to almost everything out of fear.
My mother is a survivor of the holocaust. She spent four years in Dachau concentration camp and then took part in the march of death.
She and her brother and sister adapted even to those horrifying conditions. People can adapt to everything.
I believe that to separate between the blessings and the curse of adaptability, we need to look at another human endowment – conscious free choice.
It can be our choice what we adapt to and what we do not to adapt to.
This requires consciousness. It requires an attitude which is beyond bare survival and fear only. It requires remembering that we can always choose. It is in our hands. The ability to consciously choose can transform us from surviving creatures that adapt to everything like a shell- fish into full human beings with strong back bones.
To guide our conscious choices we need values, principles, and standards. These can be obtained through deep personal development work.
And so, the next post- pandemic chapter in human evolution is going to unfold soon. And we shall see what choices people make and what they adapt to or not. What people will choose will become our next reality.
It is timely to remember that we have the potential for conscious free choice. Shall we utilize that potential or not?
Can we rise to the blessing of adaptability and leave its curses behind?
Time will tell and we shall live the consequences.