We have been indoctrinated into an ideology of modernity, and civility that claims that we are far better off than our brutish primitive ancestors. In order to be victors of these claims we are sold a narrative to hustle, to compete, to win at all costs, to conquer and take ownership of everything on this planet—because we have been told we are the superior intelligence. Everything, and everywhere we look, from what we are told to buy to make us happy, to the most popular sports we play and watch, is designed to bolster the above claims. As such, most people I encounter find it really hard to believe, even less accept, that much of their internal strife and suffering is largely due to their modern lifestyle. I once counted myself as one of these people. I bought into the search for happiness, and to advertise my success through material gain and wealth. But, as often is the case as I ticked off one more success box, the house in the right neighborhood, the BMW, and so forth, the surge of happiness was short lived. To be honest, I never enjoyed most of that so called success anyway, I simply went along with it because that’s what you were expected to do (and especially if you wanted to fit in).
The truth is, the constant pursuit of material wealth, outdoing each other at any cost, competing for anything and everything, along with a loss of true connection to each other as technology pulls us further apart—is literally making us ill. Many mental health issues such as depression, suicide and anxiety so common today in the ‘civilized’ world were largely absent in our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
All Is Not Lost
However, all is not lost. Of course not everything is bad about modernity, but I believe to truly flourish we need to once again find balance and flow in our lives. Many people may not want to accept this, but in my view and experience it requires us to go back, to reconnect with and honor our ancestral lifeways.
We can accomplish this by coming home to ancestral ways of reconnecting to nature, by advocating cooperation not competition, by leading only when we have something to offer and stepping aside when we don’t, by simplifying the way we live, by decluttering our minds, by being more fully present, honoring intuition, and living a life that doesn’t harm others (both human and non-human). Finally it can be accomplished by abiding in Anima Mundi, in the spirit of all things.
The problem of course is that humans fear letting go of the known for the perceived unknown. The truth is we have become way to comfortable, domesticated human animals, who have lost both the knowledge and physical conditioning and skills to live under the night sky.
Have We Truly Lost Our Human Animal, or Simply Let It Lie Dormant?
What I have just suggested above we have always intuitively known—although it has been stifled by modernities relentless focus on rationality. We have been told that it is indeed irrational to let go of what is referred to as our ‘civilized ways’ in favor for what is said to be the uncivilized, the primitive. The capitalistic economic machine doesn’t want us to reawaken to our human animal because it would mean living out our birthright, as one with all that is.
However if we are brave enough to allow a small opening for the call of our ancestors to once again reawaken within our hearts we can find a way of embodying our natural life flourishing intelligence.
Contrary to what we have been indoctrinated to believe it is not natural for us to fight each other. We are not meant to compete against each other. We are not meant to have power over each other. The reality is we have never been the most intelligent species on this planet, as such we never had the right to conquer, consume or believe to own nature as we have.
We are as Albert Einstein (I bet most never thought he would be the one saying this) notes:
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
The Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert talk about two "hungers". There is the Great Hunger and there is the Little Hunger. The Little Hunger wants food for the stomach; but the Great Hunger, which is said to be the greatest hunger of all, is the hunger for meaning. I believe there is an inner revolution underway. More and more individuals are waking up to the lie of modernity that promised success and happiness. People have begun to realize that the answer to their fulfillment lie elsewhere and not in the modern world we know today or what it will become tomorrow. There’s a deep desire to return to a time where we needed little, and knew how to live a life of fulfillment—a time of minimalism, kinship, and connection to the land. More and more people are finding the courage to reject conformity and live a life on their own terms.
Diogenes, ancient Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy taught that genuine freedom comes from within. Genuine freedom emerges from self-sufficiency rather than from wealth, power, or reputation. Genuine freedom does not arise from having as much as possible, but rather from needing as little as possible. The time has come to ‘unschool’ ourselves from the falsehood of happiness promised in modernity and in turn relearn and reawaken once again how to reconnect with the uncluttered, minimalist experience of being fully alive with ourselves. In short we need to ‘RiˈWīld’ ourselves!