WALDO HEMMERSLEGG’S HISTORY OF THE WORLD: (Excerpt from COMMON LIVES, unpublished novel).
Our story begins – for it is literally our story, the story of humankind – about three million years ago in an African gorge in Tanganyika. To the west is towering Mount Kilimanjaro, but here in Olduvai there is desert where once it was savannah teeming with antelope and zebra, wildebeest and all manner of animal treasures – some still with us and those now extinct. In the midst of this was a hunting, gathering troop of advanced apelike creatures, one of whom, a female we call “Lucy” was the recipient of a rare mutated gene that made her the first human. All human females carry that gene. It is not present in males. Left to the males, humankind would revert to apedom. No wonder the ladies are considered a “civilizing influence.” Hell, there wouldn’t be any civilization at all without them. No man would ever think of building a chair when he had difficulty mastering the stick in the termite hole when trying to obtain a little protein.
If we had a time lapse film of the species from its beginning, we would see Lucy’s descendents evolving and expanding up out of Africa into the Middle East, hence to Europe and Asia, thence all over the planet. The genetic material that makes human beings white, brown, black, yellow or red is a tiny marker in our genetic makeup. Everything else is the same. We are identical in every other genetic respect. We all come out of Mother Africa. That should make us a tolerant, peaceful species, but we’re not. We’ve fought and killed each other from Lucy’s day on, often over “proper” melatonin levels. We form and maintain select groups as the “best” and attempt to destroy any one or any thing (including ideas) that threatens our belief in the holy righteousness of our own brand of blind ignorance. We are all entitled to be ignorant and superstitious.
There is, in reality, only we and us. It is apparently hard for red-necked hate-filled crackers, suicide bombers, militants of every stripe, ultra-Americans and other “special” groups to admit that they are just part of the human race. “Otherness” is a big issue for them. It is only by denying the humanity of their victims that they are able to do such savagery upon them, and by denying their own humanity that they are able to be so ruthlessly cruel. In Rite of Passage, Alexei Panshin wrote that there are “no spear carriers in real life.” A spear-carrier is the guy in the opera or movie who is stabbed as the hero goes by to save the maiden; the one who falls off the parapet feathered by an arrow. They are anonymous, often faceless and assuming soulless creatures to be killed at will for dramatic effect. They are not other people, but props to make the hero look good.
That’s why the military concentrates on “doing a job of work.” Moving boulders, or whole villages, or killing whole peoples is easier when they are objectified as things subject to our divinely directed whim. When one’s “cause is right,” because “God is on our side,” and “we must protect our way of life,” murder is most “holy”. Sadness to relate, we still seem to be comfortable with that, and remain irate about our inherent equality. What’s the real problem? Nobody’s really all that special.
“LIKE TEARS IN THE RAIN”:
“I am bored by people who keep returning life to a moral plane, as if we were reducible, now, to some Biblical concept or its opposite, as if all our history and prehistory had not conditioned us for what we’ve become. It’s enough to make a moral nigger out of a man. The niggers are down there, no doubt about it. But Jack didn’t put them there and neither did I. When we get off the moral gold standard, when the man of enormous wealth is of no more importance to anybody than the man in rags, then maybe we’ll look back to our own day as a day of justifiable social wrath. Meantime, the game is rising, not leveling. Jack taught me that. Cured me. (Brother Wolf, are you listening?)” – William Kennedy, LEGS.
“Never judge a book by its cover unless it’s red.” Leo Gorcey, Bowery Boys.
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Gandhi.
Tags: brother wolf, day of justifiable wrath, humans are genetically identical in almost every respect, many biblical concepts are outmoded and wrong, moral gold standard, nobody is really all that special, otherness is a big issue for bigots, story of humankind three million years old, tell the truth and run, women as civilizing influence