“Consider the average Cro-Magnon of thirty thousand years ago. She is a healthy thirty-year-old mother of three, living in a close-knit clan of family and friends. She works only twenty hours a week gathering organic fruits and vegetables and flirting with guys who will give her free-range meat She spends most of her day gossiping with friends, breast-feeding her newest baby, and watching her kids play with their cousins, Most evenings she enjoys storytelling, grooming, dancing, drumming, and singing with people she knows, likes, and trusts. Although she is only averagely intelligent, attractive, and interesting, most of her clan mates are too, so they get along just fine, Her boyfriend is also only average, but they often have great sex, since males evolved wonderful new forms of foreplay:
conversation, humor, creativitv, and kindness. (About once a month, she hooks up secretly with her enigmatic lover, Serge, who has eleven confirmed Neanderthal kills, but whose touch is like warm rain on Alpine flowers). Every morning she wakes gently to the sun rising over the six thousand acres of verdant French Riviera coast that her clan holds, It rejuvenates her, Since the mortality rale is very low after infancy, she can look forward to another forty years of life, during which she will grow ever more valued as a woman of wisdom and status.
Now consider the average American worker in the twenty-first century.
She is a single thirty-year-old who drives a Ford Focus and lives in Rochester, She is averagely intelligent (IQ 100), having gotten Cs in a few classes before dropping out of the local community college. She now has this job in retail, working forty hours a week at the Piercing Pagoda in EastView Mall, fifty miles from her parents and siblings, She is just averagely attractive and interesting, so she has a few friends, but no steady boyfriend, She has to take Ortno TriCyclen pills to avoid getting pregnant from her tipsy sexual encounters with strangers who rarely return her phone calls. Her emotional stability is only average, and because Rochester is dark all winter, she takes Prozac to avoid suicidal despair. Every evening she watches TV alone.
Every night she fantasizes about being loved by Johnny Depp and being friends with Gwen Stefani. Every morning she awakens to the alarm clock next to the Chinese rubber plant in her six-hundred-square-foot apartment It wears her out. Thanks to modern medicine, she can look forward to another forty-five years of life, during which she will become ever less valued as an obsolete health-care burden, At least she has an iPod.
By envisioning our current lives through our ancestors’ eyes, we can see more clearly what we have given up, and what we have gained, from developing this thing called “civilization,” which nowadays means consumenst capitalism, We can also better distinguish what is truly natural about our lives from what is historically accidental, culturally arbitrary, or politically oppressive…”