What are we defined by? Are we defined by our impulses, by our woefully-inadequate grasp of the universe around us, or are we even defined at the end of the day by the actions we do (or do not) take? These questions assault me often, and just like everyone else, I am required to reassess my values and belief structures. There isn’t a day that has gone by lately where I haven’t had to tear-down false values and beliefs that I had once held as inalienable truths.
I have begun reading “Sex At Dawn”, which is a study and comparison of human sexuality between the dawn of agriculture approximately ten-thousand years ago and the current age that we live in. We believe that we are living in an age of sexual liberation and freedom, but the book makes a fantastic point in just the first two chapters that we are living in an age of intense hypocrisy and change. The modern rejection of atavistic beliefs and wisdom from our pre-agricultural age has been a recent and destructive development in the socio-biological evolution of the human race. It bears repeating that the growth from a primarily foraging society to that of an agriculture- and private-property-centric society has turned our species on its ear, as males are socially conditioned to expect and defend against infidelity, theft of property, and other violations of property rights (that include the rights of women as “property”), while they are trained to cleave to fidelity, foregoing any possible sexual identity that doesn’t fit into a patriarchal and purely property-based society.
Any male sexuality or activity that is construed as non-productive within the realms of child-bearing, property-accumulation, or even Romantic ideals of religion and an innate, personal connection with an unknowable Abrahamic deity is construed purely as “pagan-” or “humanistic-subversion”, and a challenge to the established socio-political hierarchy. Homo-, bi-, or pan-sexuality is perverse, the rejection of social mores surrounding the accumulation of vast collections of “valuable” private property and equity is profane, and (more to the point of the book in-question), and the rejection of the deception that we have been sold on the belief of our ancestors’ sexual fidelity and monogamous partnering through the ages is not only politically-incorrect, it’s as close to a poison-pill to one’s social reputation as one can get.
Even though I have been living on the fringes of these belief structures for years, I found that I still cleaved to the mistaken ideals of a uniform understanding of existence and life in this society. The utterly insane belief in the Romantic idea of love (“There’s only one person for me in all of the universe!”), the crippling construct of consumerist hell (“I can buy this shiny thing next month!”), and the frankly idiotic belief that the only avenue left to modern humans is to remain settled and to continue reinforcing the structures of stratification simply because they are expedient and the “only means to achieve the next wave of social, biological, and spiritual evolution of the species”. The more that I have experienced and thought about these beliefs, the more I have realized that these beliefs are not only based on an incomplete picture of the universe around me, the kind of ego that it takes to make these assumptions and beliefs borders on a level of incredulity that often I reserved for the biggest of “Big Fish” stories. Now, I don’t necessarily “know differently”, but at least I’m thinking differently.
Do these reflect a significant sea-change in the lives of everyday people? No. Does it reflect a change on my part and a change in the way that I relate to others? To some degree, sure. I think at least now my beliefs will trip me up less often when it comes to interpersonal relationships and the advice that I am able to offer.