Our Greatest Weakness

One of mankind’s greatest strengths, the ability to control and transform our surroundings, is our greatest weakness. Invention, ingenuity and perceived dominance over the natural order, lead to greed and arrogance.Residing comfortably at the top of the food chain, bloated egos feed on a sense of entitlement. Unstoppable appetites for more money, land, or progress are blind to warnings of collapse.

The Anasazi people of ancient America’s south west believed civilization unstoppable. Rising from the floor of Chaco Canyon, this ancient New Mexico metropolis stood as the jewel of North America. A spiritual and cultural centre, surrounded by remarkably engineered roads leading to a magnificent city; elaborate irrigation systems, dwellings rising 5 or 6 stories  along the canyon walls. Exceptional astronomers, farmers and engineers, the Anasazi were masters of their domain. From around 800 AD until 1150 AD they could do no wrong. None saw the extended drought or imagined being unable to feed themselves – the Anasazi vanished.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/chaco/HTML/canyon.html

The Anasazi of Chaco Canyon flourished at the same time as the Maya capital Copan. Arguably one of the greatest, most highly organized civilizations the world has known – cut off at the knees by lack of foresight and regrettable planning. As the population grew, wealthy Maya built palatial homes on fertile soil along rivers; forced to slash and burn surrounding jungle to plant crops, poor soil produced increasingly smaller yields.. Malnutrition and disease made for angry Maya, their last gasp played out in escalating violence and war.

http://thisishonduras.com/Copan_Ruinas.htm

I’m left to ponder how society ignores the past – why is it that mankind believes we are indestructible. We’re no different from the Anasazi or Maya, simply another time and place; equally stubborn, just as oblivious to our actions and ready to pick a fight with anyone who dares get in our way.

Photo credit – http://beautifulplacestovisit.com/ruins/anasazi-ruins-usa/

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10 thoughts on “Our Greatest Weakness

  1. Excellent point in the last part. History is one long, bitter lesson few take to consider. It’s a diagnosis to certain weaknesses that we, as a race, consistently fall prey to.

    At the same time, history IS cyclical. England no longer has trees, Eurasia no longer has Aurochs, the Dodo has long been dead, the Yangtze is beyond corrosive, and all this is within the past five-hundred years. Over and over again. We’ve had warning to poor planning, yet we rarely take heed.

    We’re quite bad at long term planning. I think that’s the greatest modern, Western issue, and I agree with your points on it. One of the most compelling arguments ever made within political theory classes is the understanding of our lives as brief, and conditional of a stable environment. Moreso to that, the tacit responsibility and rights of future generations, as if they were as strong as the human rights of anyone still living. Deep-Green-Ecology, or Aboriginal understandings of nature as intrinsic and infinite to our own race’s existence delve deep into this.

    Imagine a world where development and planning went beyond the next fiscal quarter. This gets into turgid debates about long-term thinking, and whether or not modern democratic structures could even pull that sort of thing off.

    But hey. Good article. Cheers, mate.

  2. Agree, it seems that once any generation begins to have success, a switch is flicked and the ego begins to run wild ignoring both common sense & history. Short term profitability over long term destruction… Nice post, and great topic that should be the basis of a lot of debate in boardrooms and political circles, and for ‘revolutionaries’ everywhere 🙂

  3. As you are interested in ancient civilizations you might find the Sci-Fi book, Cyberway, by Alan Dean Foster, entertaining, as it’s focus is Navajo Sand Painting and includes reference to the Anasazi.

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