We are bred to take the easy way forward. To save energy – physically and mentally. Our surviving hunter-gatherer forbearers have provided us with this evolutionary feature. Where saving somehow turned into what’s easier. We consort to hosts of easily accessible mental biases, like categorizing people and places so that they’re easier to remember and judge. Everything we, nowadays, buy is connected to making our lives easier. Even our anatomic nature is to actively seek and store fat and carbs, especially sugar so that we can use them later. And unfortunately, there aren’t as many excuses to actually use this stored up energy anymore… but that’s the point.
If you didn’t know, what we call modern civilization has only been around for human (homo sapien) existence roughly 0.001% of the time – depending on what your benchmarks are, but, it is still a ridiculously small number. And yet, we have brains and bodies of people who have lived in the other 99.99%. Even though everything else has changed, we have not.
So, what do you get when you mix innate evolutionary features that are geared toward survival through time-saving and ease in a society that preaches and satisfies and exploits all those wants of ease? I’m not a hundred percent sure but it’s safe to say not as many people committed suicide back when they gathered berries and ran from wolves. As well as having less cardiovascular and respiratory diseases (and road injuries, obviously).
If you look at the chart, you can easily see how our brain’s wiring toward ease has shown in how we die. Taking the numbers with a grain of salt, as natural death relating to physical health issues are going to happen and be amongst the highest rank, but nearly all the upper rankings are related to poor physical health and the middle to lower half occupying poor mental health. Now, it’s not like we can eradicate all these categories and diseases, people are going to die in one way or another. But the fact that suicides double homicides is and should be viewed as complete absurdity.
These problems are complex and I am in no way trying to solve them (because I don’t know how) but this information is precious. In hindsight, we may think that we have everything figured out and that the way we live our lives is the way we should live them, but if you look at the numbers and broaden your timescale, things come and go for little or no logical reason at all and sometimes have serious consequences. We are animals that are affected by external as much as internal phenomena. We have innate needs that need to be met based on years of evolution (group selection). If those needs are not met (lack of community, purpose, relationships), combined with our fondness of ease seeking, then it results in unnecessarily unhappy lives. Not to mention all the problems our old brains get us into with new world technology when comparing to others.
With this view on humanity, taking the biological route, perhaps we can structure our society so that it can meet our needs and support our natural human tendencies, rather than exploit them. And maybe the easy way forward will stop being so hard.