Will part of us always be a “hunter gatherer” at heart ?
No matter how sophisticated we think we are in our comfortable western society, there will always be an element of the “hunter gatherer” within us. A certain few still have the desire to hunt and kill animals. But for the majority of us, these tendencies are concealed in a less noticeable way. Myself and many others experience this feeling when we are exposed to nature for a period of time. The first opportunity I had to really experience this, was when I was around seventeen years old. I went to Canada with a friend of mine where we met up with his older brother, we took a camping trip through the national parks and countryside between Toronto and Montreal. This was in the late sixties and even though it was a popular pastime, it wasn’t quite as sanitized as it is today.
Sitting around the “camp fire” in the shadows listening to the wild life all around us. The wind blowing through the trees, the clear night sky and in those days the proximity of bears, foraging for food, gave me a “primitive” feeling. This felt very different to what I had been used to living close to London. It didn’t feel strange or even different though, it felt “right” as if this was how it was meant to be. Today, the first major problem most people will have, is disconnecting from social media. Dare I suggest leaving all the electronic gadgets at home, this includes the satellite navigation system. Even in the late sixties, where life was relatively simple, we were closer to our “hunter gatherer” roots than we are now in 2017.
Are we getting farther and farther away from our “hunter gatherer” past?
Is this the fundamental underlying problem that we have, without even realizing that we have a problem. Food sharing and cooperation are central to “hunter gatherer” societies. “Hunter gatherers” exist in multi-level social structures, to help regulate cooperative systems. Furthermore, these social structures regulate rules, friendship, kinship ties and the spread of social norms. Central to this, is an extended family environment where everyone looks out for each other. We see this as primitive now, because we think we have evolved into a society that has all the answers. At an intellectual level we may have a lot of the answers, but unfortunately we also have a lot of unanswered questions to think about.
Community is an essential part of life in these “primitive” societies, we have almost stopped “hunter gathering” for our food supply now. We eat more and more processed food now, as it’s convenience helps us cope with our hectic lifestyles. At the same time that I was in Canada on my trip through the forests. My mother was walking to town everyday with her shopping basket. Purchasing fresh food from the “fish mongers” the “butchers” and other individual outlets. I can remember “Tesco” being no bigger than my local newsagent is today. Community was organic, it just existed, by virtue of people walking everywhere. Loneliness the disease of the 21st century, had hardly been “invented” at this stage. A lot of the ailments that loneliness would bring, hadn’t as yet, started to develop.
A “Hunter gatherer” problem manifesting as something else.
There is always an internal battle going on in each of us in two conflicting parts, one is our center of rationality and high minded logic. But unfortunately these feelings are trapped inside a biological animal, who mostly cares about survival, which is linked to our tribal past. The farther we move away from this tribal past, the worse this problem seems to be. But we can design our lives like a “hunter” traveling light, and in doing this, we can set up our lives in such a way, that we can be quite comfy with very little money. The “Hunter Gatherer” is not possessed by his possessions. The modern worker unfortunately, is often one pay check away from the street. With more attention paid to our basic needs, instead of our wants, we can have long stretches where the “hunting” is not so good, but we can still survive.