This manual is largely about understanding our past and ourselves as an extension of it. There are recurring themes of "finding places to be yourself." Know your abilities, search your family for unsuspected abilities, and seek roles and groups consistent with your nature. On a symbolic level, this strategy implies returning to our Eden but with the stipulation that Eden is allowed to be different for each one of us. "Eden" is a match between the demands of our setting and our talents. Our talents came by way of evolutionary sculpting and we seek to return to those conditions. We find things beautiful that are consistent with full bellies and safe nesting, with close companionship, and with a spot on multiple hierarchic ladders, perhaps a different one for each of our talents. We protect our living and remember our dead while carrying their genes and habits.
However, our talents are not always synchronized. We produce too many of us and threaten too many other living things. We often soil our nest and move on but can no longer do so. Being an evolutionist lets me guess our hominid ways -- whatever their dubious history -- and how they are woven into the lives of other creatures, the water and sun that we share, and the changes in heat dissipation that are our influence.
It also gives me sometime glimpses of possible futures. The effect is a peculiar one, like seeing a movie of a movie. For example, I had an enjoyable chat with several of Charles Crawford's students at HBES. We discussed evolutionary psychology but my adaptations for being funny, and being clever and other male poses also operated. I "knew" what I was doing and also "knew" that each of the young women, also evolutionists, "knew" what I was doing, and that "I knew that I knew" and so on. Yet the courtship posturings occurred despite differences in our ages and despite being so clearly witnessed.
Likewise, we all "know" about ongoing mass extinctions, occurring not a millennium ago but right now, more massive perhaps than 6 or 7 others already in the record. Mass extinctions reflect the collapse of many many niches and their occupants. We know that we could be in one of those niches and be one of those species but continue to execute automatic routines and career growth. Again, we know and "know that we know" but continue to act even while stepping out of our selfs to watch and note our self destruct.
We know about possible extreme oil shortages and the likely devastating effects on population. We continue to act as if we are observers and analysts and ignore that it is our children who are the transitional generation, that many of them will be alive but cold and perhaps starving in the critical decades around 2050. Many of ours will die, perhaps as a result of killing each other. Regardless of whatever modular traits we have, we treadmill onward while ignoring bad news, following our psychological adaptations that feed on current signals about old dangers. Long lines of traffic and space missions testify that on very old levels, we "think" we can still physically migrate. We have no "extinction detectors" and the environment will soon force our taking a sustained path, one that respects limits.
We have no choice except in the speed in which we change, perhaps allowing a more gradual transition over the next 50 years. However, this choice demands that every coherent mechanism in our culture -- including both religion and evolutionary theory -- lead people. There is no choice that a transition will occur. Its abruptness, cyclic corrections, and the new baseline might vary and our choices lie between helping more of us to live more carefully or helping more of us to die. We have taken sustained paths before but on smaller scales imposed gradually; now we have to do it globally and quickly.