Only in America. That is a phrase that is usually reserved for when an American does something really stupid or violent. But in the wake of Rep. Joe Wilson screaming, "You Lie," to President Obama on Wednesday evening, I had one of those "Aha!" moments.
Let me start by saying that I know evolution is a physical process. It involves tiny changes over millions of years that contribute to the survival and reproduction of organisms that carry certain desirable traits. But I also know that this lead to sociological changes; cooperation aids in survival just as much as certain physical traits, which lead to the development of communities, etc.
So what's my point? How WILL she synthesize these two seemingly unrelated ideas? Well, in the United States of America there are lots of people (I can't remember the actual statistic, but it is an embarrasingly high number) who don't believe that evolution occured. In fact, we even have a museum devoted to the alleged science of creationism. A friend of mine went there this summer. And now I am beginning to believe that these people may be right. In America at any rate.
I'll try another way to make my point. When discussing how seemingly uncivilized the people of the United States can sometimes be, I used to say that Americans are at least as civilized as our British counterparts were when their country was only 230 years old. If one is to look at British history, things were pretty rough then. Barbaric, one could say. But when I made that point in a conversation with some folks at work, one of my good friends countered that I was suggesting that civil advancement can take place in a vacuum, which it obviously can't. In other words, the British aren't the only ones who have come forward this number of years-the whole world has. All of us could be said to be advancing at the same rate.
Why, then, are Americans still so in love with their guns, their "let them get a job with insurance," the Truthers and Birthers, the OMG IT'S SOCIALISM! and making up big lies about politicians who simply look at solutions to the world's problems differently? Well-if it isn't just the that the United States is still such a young country. then perhaps evolution didn't really happen here. Obviusly the physical processes happened, but maybe the evolutionary steps that brought civilization to Europe and Asia were stopped here by something. Is it possible that the need to create a cohesive society just wasn't required here-perhaps because of the landscape. In the Appalachian and Smoky Mountains, for example, maybe the neighbors were so far apart that 'society" was not only not necessary, but not even possible. Perhaps agriculture, instead of bringing people together here, kept us apart...the cattle we raise just needed so much land that sharing with neighbors, whether those neighbors are wildlife or other people, wasn't going to happen. Anyone who rode up to a particular spread in West Texas was just as likely to be a threat as a friend. So as cities sprang up out of the prairies, we still held to the notion that other people, along with people who care about other people, were probably foe and not friend.
It has been fairly well established that there were Neanderthals present with modern man in Europe for thousands of years, until they were either absorbed or died off. Perhaps it was an opposite direction trip across the land bridge, and those threatened groups came to what is now the United States, created a closed society and reatined many of the behaviors, if not the appearance, of their Neanderthal forebears. Americans do tend to be shorter than European counterparts, chunkier in build.
So now I can feel less bad about how uncivilized the behavior of many of my fellow Americans is.