For all that has been said, fairly or otherwise, about human beings, there is one immutable fact about our species that can neither be denied nor overcome; the Homo sapien is the quintessential paradox. On the one hand, in the Darwinian context, at least, we only have two jobs. The first of these is to stay alive, and the other demands that we reproduce in order to perpetuate the species. And while no one can argue with the assertion that, when we first stood upright 300 Millenia ago, neither of these were simple tasks, at least we enjoyed a relatively uncomplicated sense of meaning and purpose.

As it is with all living things, human existence is pretty straightforward; we are born, and we die, and along the way, we labor to hone and refine our skills and abilities in harmony with our environment and available resources, such that we (hopefully) avoid our own extinction. But it is that damnable paradoxical strand within our shared DNA that drives us all into every wall and over every cliff in the never-ending pursuit to make better what already works just fine.

In our collective defense, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that our unquenchable thirst for continuous improvement, driving us ever-forward to “hone and refine our skills and abilities in harmony with our environment and available resources,” is the very primal imperative that is equally both our greatest asset and our greatest liability and, I would argue, is the very essence of what makes our species so incredibly simple yet maddeningly complex.

The pursuit of our two primal imperatives is not without a fair amount of conflict and confrontation, not the least of which is the eternal conflict with another pesky little “feature” of our species that can likewise neither be denied nor overcome that I like to call “Humankind’s Innate Free Will.” Absent from most of the other species we share space with on this spinning little blue ball in the cosmos, I am of the strong opinion that- in humans, – Free will is both a feature and a bug, but I reluctantly accept that it is an essential element of our existence. Having said that, however, I would quickly add that our dogged determination and forceful exercise of our free will has routinely led us to more near-extinction moments than can be counted, almost all of which happened while overthinking the matters at hand and overcomplicating the solutions to them. If we can be brutally honest with ourselves, Free Will has been at the root of every victory and defeat we have confronted since the dawn of our existence and, despite shrill protestations to the contrary from the self-proclaimed enlightened ranks among we modern humans and in deference to the Darwinian maxims Vis a vie natural selection, our species is doomed to perpetually out-think itself until the last of the genuine thinkers have stepped off this mortal coil.

C’mon, now… You know I’m right.

[Part one coming soon]


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