By Sumay...based on the best selling book "Sapiens" written by Yuval Noah Harari.
Back in the stone ages, every clan of cave men had the abilities of modern day marathon runners and gymnasts. They could move in the most agile and fluid movements as they carried on with their short, but happy lives. An average stone age individual would be able to turn a stone into a spear head in minutes. Our modern humans have attempted only to find ourselves with rock rubble. Even someone with years of practice may not be able to accomplish that amount of agility and strength.
In these modern times all you need are hands to get a job and maintain a happy un-starving life. You do not need an extremely agile body to bag groceries or clean windows. All you need is a very small skill set to make your way through life. As hunter-gatherers they needed to have abilities in a lot of different things. Deciphering if a mushroom is safe or not. If they had enough food to survive the winter. And the sounds of all the animals as an early warning system to detect danger.
As their hunter gathering days grew shorter and their agricultural days grew longer, homo sapiens slowly got lured into the trap of processed sugar, processed grains, and processed bodies. Slowly the agility in our bodies were replaced with...well...whatever that is (see below).
Slowly we consumed what we could make and not what we could find. And we got trapped in the world we call today. Many are unhappy with their jobs… would they have jobs if they lived in wilderness? No!
Homo sapiens started to get “smarter” and wiped out half of the large animals wherever they set foot upon. No sane human could say that we wiped out half of the large animals and call that smart. Imagine 12 foot birds, tiny elephants, and huge ants. They are all gone. Every last one of them. And there’s nothing we can do about it. We are trapped. We can’t go back because we don’t know how. We survive with air conditioning, and soft serve ice cream. And much of our history is forgotten.
People are rediscovering it but questions are left unanswered and historians can never get the full picture.
Now, when we say we domesticated rice is that really true? Not really, if you think about it, really, rice domesticated us. Instead of getting water from rain it domesticated us to water it. Then we were stuck lugging water from the wells and rivers under the blistering sun for the rice as they sit back, relax, and watch us do it.
Slowly as we got more into agriculture we started domesticating animals so we didn’t have to be so worried about our crops failing! But we treat animals horribly.
To make pigs dependent on humans, they chop off a chunk of the pig's nose to make it extremely painful for the pigs to sniff and rummage.
They also sometimes scooped out the pig's eyes to make it so that they couldn’t even see where they were going.
Female cows were almost constantly pregnant so they could get milk out of them. Once she has given birth her child is immediately taken away from her. If male he would be sent to get slaughtered. If female she would grow up, get pregnant, give milk, and then get slaughtered. Either way is horrible. The cows grow up in a box that is barely as big as them to make sure their muscles are soft. Because:
This is horrible to the poor cows and other animals forced through torture. It’s not right. Baby camels get part of their lips and nose chopped off to make it hurt to suckle so they won’t take up too much milk. Nevertheless this is all wrong doing. None of these animals deserve that kind of treatment. Animals are really just humans in a different shape they don’t deserve any of the hurt they're getting.
The clans of Homo sapiens got bigger and bigger until they were collecting taxes from millions of people. Now, how did they get so many people to cooperate? Myths. Let's say there is a clan, this clan is named Carrot. There are 5 people and they are just fine except for one dude. His name is Jeff. Now Jeff wants more people in the clan and in order to keep them in line he starts up the myth of the pink fluffy unicorn that dances on rainbows.
He says that the pink fluffy unicorn told him that he should be king and that if they disobey that the unicorn will jump off the rainbow and land on them. So because of that myth Jeff is now king of the clan and named the clan “Clan Jeff”.
And Ta-Da! Jeff is now “King Jeff Nominated By The Unicorn Of The Rainbows”. And yes... it is a very long name.
There are different imaginary things that aren't religions too. There is, for example, one we all believe in... it is called money. Now money isn't that stack of dollar bills on the counter. It is whatever what we believes has value. For example in some prisons they use cigarettes as currency.
Money is just paper, it has no real value. But as long as everybody believes in it things should go alright. To make this more clear I'll give you an example.
On a lonely street there was a little shop. This shop is called the "No Money Shop". And they don't believe in the dollar bills so when people come they have to barter.
Bartering: Bartering is when people trade things to buy goods and services. This is hard though, which I'll explain.
Imagine that Jeff is in need of pants and all he has to trade for pants is a giant chicken. Do you have that image in your mind? OK...good. But what if the shopkeeper, Sally, doesn't want a giant chicken. She wants a cow. So now picture Jeff running around trying to trade his chicken for a cow so that he may trade that for some desperately needed pants. Not the ideal use of Jeff's time given his new role as leader of "Clan Jeff".
Now, suppose that Jeff decides after his disappointment in the shopkeeper's wants he decides to make an easier way to purchase pants. Luckily, he can simply demand these changes because his clan members are afraid to turn into smush. Now pricing at the store is far simpler. Instead of 1,000 price tags on each item (price of pants in chickens, cows, toothpaste...etc) there is just one price in Jeff coins. The shop's profits explode and never again does Jeff go without pants.
Writing was used for specific things, like the prices in... for example "Jeff Coins". Symbols for certain numbers were created for the use of data. But when writing is in symbols only certain things can be written. This is useful when you are only writing in data of tax collection that year but when writing an essay all you really have is numbers and a few words to work with. Unless, of course you are writing an essay about counting. Mr.Harari calls these writing ways "partial script". Partial script is very hard because you have to learn all of the symbols instead of just memorizing a short, simple, alphabet.
But I won't call Chinese a partial script even though every word is a different symbol. The reason why is because you can write essays, poems, and books with it. And you can communicate with the language effectively. This is also why I don't enjoy Chinese class very much. They try to make it a bit easier by making the symbols look like what the word is. For example for the word fish they try to make it look like a fish. They try... to me the word fish looks like it should be window.
Retrieving data back then was hard. When I say hard I actually mean REALLY hard. To explain this... back then they had to store the written data on physical things. Which would mean libraries and libraries of clay tablets, carved rock tablets, etc. This is extremely inconvenient.
Let's say there is this dude name Billy, he has a cow. And before he had the cow Jeffy had it.
Jeffy claims to have said that when the cow was butchered Billy would have to give him half the meat. Billy answers saying that Jeffy gave him the cow for free because they were pals. Jeffy argues back that he wasn't even sure if he was talking to his friend because he couldn't see with his huge sombrero. Billy then politely walks forward and yanks the hat off. They repeatedly start kicking and punching un expertly until they remember that the government keeps all records of transactions. They go there to find themselves a big disappointment...
Thousands upon thousands of clay plates with writing all stacked up in disorganized piles.
10 years later Jeffy finally finds the plate of clay they wanted. Tears come to his eyes as he slowly reads it. Jeffy actually get half the meat! Unfortunately the cow is already a pile of compost by now. So Jeffy and Billy go back to their houses and plant gardens in their half of the cow compost. So they both end up happy!
Hierarchy back then (and still is in some countries) are completely arbitrary. The fact that somebody is more tanned does not mean that they deserve less. It's just that the dude deciding the hierarchy was probably a male and not very tanned. Obviously this is extremely unfair and wrong.
The men get all they could ever want, the women take all that's left and the slaves... well... let's hope the slave owners are generous.
Let's say there is a pizza. The men grab more than needed. The women grab what's left. The slaves lick the plate when they leave. That's kinda how things went for a while... not that it was at all right. But life's not fair and sometimes people with bad and good intentions can get power and mess it up. Take Adolf Hitler for an example. If they had chosen someone else to go into power, maybe there wouldn't have been a 2nd World War.
There are also different hierarchies that don't involve slavery but more of an overlook on the person's life.
Let's say we are on a planet. This planet is called "Pizza"! Kinda in the mood after my example. Anyway on this planet there are three types of people... people with pink, purple and yellow faces. It is organized so that
The Pink: Wear "I'm awesome" on their shirt
The Purple: Wear "I'm OK" on their shirt
The Yellow: Wear "I suck" on their shirt
Let's take a glimpse into how they live!
Pink: When they walk into a perfume shop the shopkeeper (Who is probably a purple) will show the pink their best perfumes and pray they satisfy the pink face. Because the pink face has permission to spank the purple face.
Purple: When a purple face walks in to that same shop they would probably get shown to the OK perfumes and if they aren't satisfied... they get a spanking.
Yellow: The yellow face sits on the welcome mat and hopes to get in. If not they would probably stay there just to enjoy the scent after a long days work of dung sifting. If let in they would be shown the perfumes that make you smell worse than you really are which would be really bad considering their job... dung sifting. They also can get spanked whenever the shopkeeper wants to.
Pink: Anything they wish.
Purple: Boring, kinda good paying jobs
Yellow: Dung Sifting
Also when you are a yellow face you have to marry a yellow face. Then when you have kids they inherit your unfortunate genes as, yellow faces.
Now a few years later they abolish yellow face laws so they get purple face opportunities. Of course there are still anti yellow faces but at least less. After a few months of this the yellow faces haven't gone anywhere, or done anything. People start thinking that the yellow faces are born dumb. This is completely unfair! The reason why is because for centuries the yellow faces only sifted dung for a living and lived in shacks. They only know how to sift dung! They didn't go for an interview because they don't know how. Only a handful of yellow faces even know how to read!
The yellow faces are glad that nobody's spanking them anymore but other than that things don't really change. The pink faces and the purple faces vote and decide that they should be kept away from the rest of society like they always have. Their dung covered hands would get people sick. So now the yellow faces are back where they always were... sifting dung.
Now, what's so good about pink faces? The pink faces weren't born awesome. They somehow got that way. Some theories say that the pink faces were labeled as flashy. But why are they flashy? Just because the pink faces were arbitrarily named as "flashy" doesn't really mean they're any better. If you think about it the yellow faces could have been named "flashy" and everything would go vice-versa. And the planet Pizza would have the yellow faces in luxury and the pink faces in... dung. This is related to how men were and in some places still are labeled as "better than women". This might be because they are, on average, stronger than women. This would obviously give them an advantage but not a clear one. They would be better at doing all of the grunt work but that would just be another reason for the women to be in charge. To explain: Instead of having the men be in charge the women would because the men would do the physical work which they are probably better at. And the women would handle all the mental work which they are probably equally good at as the men. Point is they would probably get things done faster. Not that it should be the case. For there are buff women and twig dudes.
So everybody should do what they are good at! Then work would probably go faster so that scrawny guy doesn't have to pull a plow.
Also, if a women wanted to have children they would have to go through 9 painstakingly long months of pregnancy. This would be hard. Because no one would be providing them food and the things they need to survive and have a healthy happy baby. So they come up with a solution. Which is marrying a rich man that could provide food and a nice home. Because a pregnant women couldn't push a plow... well they could but... they wouldn't reach.
Also the women fighting for more rights wouldn't have time to have kids. Which also means no kids to continue fighting after there parents died. Then the population of women fighting for there rights slowly starts to shrink. Now if the women could give birth after a few days this wouldn't be a problem. Now I'm not saying that all of them would have kids. It would be hard after giving birth to take care of them and find food for them. But when the campaigning doesn't stop eventually the government either find a way to silence them or gives in.
Things that people have labeled as "Natural" and "Unnatural" were not born that way. Just someone who was in power said so. For example: Sally the shopkeeper started walking on her hands. Everyone thought it was weird until they got used to it. Now think about it, what if the first of their kind decided the way they should get around was on their hands? Then this person would be the "person in power" in a sense. Then when Sally was walking on her hands nobody would be staring. This makes us question all the things we think to be natural and unnatural. It can also be used to minimize teasing. If somebody is doing something different and the arbitrarily picked popular kid says it's weird it is natural for others to think similarly. Same goes if the popular kid thinks it is perfectly normal.
A lot of people think that the world is one thing. But that is really not true. With all the different cultures it really isn't one world, but billions. Back in history all the Europeans and the Chinese and all the other different cultures all basically were in worlds of there own. Not even knowing the other worlds existed. They had there struggles and there good times completely oblivious to everything else in the world until we traveled to new lands and met new people in new cultures and new languages. So many different people yet so close together it seems impossible. But yet we manage it. Even now with the news showing us what's happening halfway across the world we still sometimes forget that there is not only us but a whole world out there. All of our own problems come up and everything else seems to disappear while really it goes on. People being happy, sad, angry, and jealous. Friends right next to you and you don't even see them. So I try to realize that I'm not the only person in this world. There are more. In there own separate world when there really on the same one.
When homo sapiens started out we had our own clans. Any other clan was our enemy, a whole other animal. Back then it was this clan that clan. Then it started to be more us. We. We are people. Ya, sure, we were in different clans but we were still all people. Imagine the snails trying to unite all the other snails in the world.
It seemed like something crazy. But we did it. Now when I see someone half way across the world, I don't think "AHHHHHHH DANGER! SOMEONE FROM A DIFFERENT CLAN!" I think "Oh, another human... I wonder who that person is?" See the clear difference. Of course you do. I don't know what changed or what happened to make them change. What made them think differently. All I know is that if I was living back then I would ask myself... If I thought all the people in my clan were humans, then why are all the others not.
When we had our own villages everybody bartered. There were people who were the best at hunting, gathering, planting, treating, etc. They bartered goods and services. But then they started using coins. Coins that the church produced. Even Muslims and other religions. Even America. Look at the dollar bill. And what it says at the top.
People prize gold. Love it. For no reason at all. It's very soft and won't do you any good if you try to make it into something useful. So why do we love it so much? We just arbitrarily picked some metal and called it precious. Literally.
Sure it's pretty and all but not terribly useful. I'm really not sure. It could be because some king had an obsession for it. And then all his people prized it. Or of something Mr. Harari mentions. He says that the Spaniards said that the gold cured people of a sickness. Now I'm not sure if the gold actually did cure them or if it was just the placebo effect. Though I doubt it actually really did cure them.
Anyways, back to the bartering. You could give someone that you know a good or a service. And you could trust that they would return it. But what if you were selling it to someone you didn't know. How would you know that they would return the favor? So having one set of currency would settle that. They would have to pay at that exact time. And if not we have record of it... well at least in these modern days. All you need to do is swipe a little plastic card.
Bartering is extremely hard in other ways too. Let's say Bob has tomatoes. So every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner Bob is sitting there eating his tomatoes. Better than the modern man getting caught helping himself too much Kraft's Mac & Cheese... but still. He longs for a taste of a banana. So he sits there and sulks over his tomatoes. Then he realized that his neighbor next door plants bananas. He brightens up and realizes maybe his neighbor would like to barter with him. He gathers a sack of tomatoes. And knocks on the neighbor's door. But... what if the neighbor doesn't like tomatoes. Or they just can't agree on a price. Maybe the neighbor is allergic to tomatoes. So many possibilities. But since Bob is so desperate for that banana he will be nice. They agree a deal and Bob gets his beloved banana.
Let's say though that his neighbor doesn't want the tomatoes he wants avocados. So does Bob get his banana? The answer is maybe. Depends on if he is willing to make three way trade which can work two ways. Either Bob can give the avocado planter some tomatoes in exchange for avocados and then give the avocados to his neighbor for bananas. Or he could give tomatoes to the neighbor in exchange for bananas and then the neighbor would use the tomatoes that he got to pay for the avocados. Since Bob is so desperate for those bananas then he would probably be willing to do either way.
Great right! No. There is a big plot hole. Does the avocado gardener want tomatoes? If the answer is yes, then great! But if no then it would just be all the more work for everybody. And then the trade would go four way. Maybe even five way if the person selling whatever the avocado person wants something other than tomatoes and bananas. Anyway this all gets really complicated really fast. So, is it really worth all that? Probably not. So I guess in all those years of exhausting bartering no one thought of having one currency in sea shells or something. But I guess not. I mean when you're used to doing all that it might just seem normal and not at all tiring. Who knows?
To try to make things easier you could try making prices. But that is not making anything easier. You would have to list out every single possible currency. Which would be impossible judging that there are endless amount of things and ways to make them. Also some of them would not be well made or not be well planted. And maybe some of the customers would disagree with the price. Then the years of work would not even work.
Another choice is to put it down to only a few items like pigs, apples, and rice. Then your customers would have to pay in those 3 things. But then you wouldn't have as much people coming to your store. So you would probably stick with the tiering way of analyzing the price when your customer came.
But when you come to the sense of money you can't actually just believe that it has value. You have to believe that the weirdly decorated green paper has actual value. So when you do a bunch of hard work you don't end up like...
You've got to to actually believe the physical thing has value. That actual green paper has value, or essentially it doesn't really have value. It's not just the thought that counts. It's the belief. So this guy's reaction is...
It's all about trust. We trust in money because our parents do. We trust in money because everybody else does too. We also trust that the person that we are trading money for whatever good or service we need trusts in money. Money is something we love because we trust in it. Back then they could have used something like rice to trade with as money. But then that just feels like trading food except with rice. It isn't money, really. It's just any other piece of food... just you'd be glad to have more of it. Also when you think about money you usually don't think about eating it. When you're using rice of course you could eat it. With rice it would be very inconvenient to truck bags of rice all around in a wallet. What if it broke? If you had neighbors over and cooked rice they could steal your food and use it to buy things. It would be very inconvenient.
To be continued...
Thank you for reading! As I progress through Sapiens I will add more to this article. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in human history and really anything else.