Darwinism has me cornered and I think I have myself to blame for it.
For a long time I was a strong believer in survival of the fittest, mostly cuz it's like totally scientific and stuff but also because it seems to make sense. Species are confronted with a living environment with specific problems the species have to deal with. Some manage, through generations and generations, change and they survive at least a little longer, others don’t and die. It’s not a pretty picture (and if you don’t believe me Animal Planet has Slaughtering Bullies Night next Tuesday), but it seems to make sense.
That is in a world where physical strength and adaptation is everything, which is no longer the world we live in.
You see, in Europe and the U.S., anyone can survive these days. It hasn’t got anything to do with being the fittest. The problems animals used to be confronted with (food, other animals having them for brunch) are totally lost on us. If we want food all we have to do is walk (or if you’re American drive) to the nearest McDonalds (which I will pronounce as MACDonalds for as long as I live no matter what my insane American friends tell me) restaurant and eat. Really, the only thing that we can add to the human body for future generations is the ability to smell deep fryers from six blocks away.
So surviving is no longer a day to day affair for most of us (unless of course you were born in Africa or certain parts of Asia or the Middle East, then you’re just screwed and have to wait for Bob Geldof to save you). What’s important these days is being successful at living, or in other words in the age we live in now it’s about survival of the smartest. Think about it, if you manage to get into Harvard (which apparently 10% of the people who try to get in succeed in doing) you can pretty much be sure you have a job the rest of your life. If you’re smart (or better said if you use your brain better than some others) you generally get a better education, because of that a better paying job and eventually you live longer because you tend to eat better and you can afford better medical care.
Now those last two may sound like survival of the fittest, but it has nothing to do with the original theory. In this case it hasn’t got anything to do with the strongest parts of each specie continuing, it has to do with the most successful ones having the money to do those things that will keep them alive. And, since I’m not extremely stupid and rather successful in the educational department, I totally dig this new concept. But then old Darwinism reared it’s ugly head.
Enter my ear.
Specifically my left ear (that is, from my perspective, the right for you…. Unless you’re standing behind me, then also my left…. See, smart!). For years the ear has been causing me trouble. You see, normally there’s a little tube somewhere between your head and your ear that is supposed to take fluid out of the ear but sadly enough mine doesn’t work. This means that when fluid does enter my left ear it doesn’t go away and leaves me practically deaf on one side. Me and my ear-doctor (his last name is Stanojcic but everyone calls him by his first name Laki, which gives me a very safe E.R. like feeling) have come to the conclusion that it’s a problem that well never go away and actually might in the end cause me to lose all hearing in my left ear. Which is actually not as bad as it sounds, it just means I can’t hear stuff that happens to the left of me (SEE, smart!).
And then it hit me. This is survival of the fittest historian style! Say, in a couple of years I’ll be out in the open field, munching on a fresh biography I hunted down and killed in it’s natural environment, the library. Then suddenly a young historian approaches me from behind, but from the left so I can’t hear him coming, leaving me totally unprepared. Then suddenly he attacks me with a totally new thesis on Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 Democratic primaries. Not hearing him, I can’t defend myself making me look stupid in front of the other historians that have come to the drinking place to argue about whether Alexander the Great was gay or not.
Believe me, it’s a jungle out there!
Ps. Extra Boris-points for the one that can figure out where the title comes from.