Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Evolutionary Distress

We ended up in Washington D.C. last year, on a cold rainy day, as participants in a large anti- war demonstration and after the march we decided to warm up with a walk through the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian. Perhaps we could gain some insight into our species incorrigibly violent nature. So we followed the evolutionary path of Homo sapiens, in fact of all life on planet earth, as it is described in the archeological record so painstakingly researched and analyzed by scientists and scholars. Through the protozoa and bony little fishes, the birds, reptiles and mammals, till, rounding a corner we are confronted with a display of “early man”. A replication of a cave dwelling family in their animal skins, holding their stone tools discussing we-can-only-imagine-what ,is gathered around their precious fire there in the middle of this huge gallery. While gazing at this ancestral milieu I am startled out of my contemplation by the loud, angry exclamations coming from the middle aged woman next to me, directed at the now pitifully cowering gray haired old lady next to her.
“ There Mom, look, there’s your Adam and Eve! This is your fabulous Garden of Eden!
What do you say to this?”

The scorn and fury in her shaking voice cause many of us to glance over , to wonder what all the commotion could possibly be about but the embarrassment and chagrin and pain on the old womans face force me to just as deliberately look away. She says nothing as what is now revealed to be her daughter continues to mercilessly berate her. The daughter is wildly agitated and making a public spectacle of this crazy, personal conflict.
“ This is how we evolved Mother, over millions of years, not created in a few days, look at what it says Mother!”

The old woman will not look at the cave people. She stares straight ahead, her jaw set ,lips closed tight. I am so embarrassed for her I can watch no longer and move rapidly into an adjoining room filled with the skeletal remains of ancient dinosaurs. I can feel the jagged gash where this mother and daughter have been violently ripped apart by their respective beliefs and who knows how many other festering little issues. I have to wonder how the eruption could have taken so long to manifest,if the trip to the museum was in fact a trap prepared and finally sprung after to many years of profound disagreement .Perhaps there should have been a serpent in a fruit tree next to the cave.In either case our destiny remains undecipherable in the archaeological record. We may just stay forever huddled in that cave ,staring into the fire,hoping for some clue.


Post a Comment

<< Home