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Alternative Culture Articles

September, 2008

Homo Sapiens Clemens
By Royce Carlson

About 200,000 years ago the fossil record indicates the first appearance of Homo sapiens as a species. At some point since then Homo sapiens diverged into two sub-species.  Homo sapiens idaltu (means elder or first intelligent human) existed about 160000 years ago but is now extinct.  Modern man is called Homo sapiens sapiens. The name means intelligent (twice) human. Some translate sapiens as meaning wise. I prefer the word "intelligent." Homo sapiens sapiens is the only living subspecies under the genus Homo. That's us. Modern man.

Besides homo sapiens, are there any un-domesticated species of plant or animal on earth that have a growing population? I'll bet not. Humanity has won the game of proliferation. We have been able to successfully compete with all other species for territory. We have practically eliminated predation on humans. We have made many other species subservient to us, and we have spread our species all over the globe and, occasionally, into space. Our biological instincts combined with our intellect and opposable thumbs have made us practically invincible. The only remaining enemies to the survival of homo sapiens sapiens are the very instincts that brought the species to the top in the first place.

The biblical phrase, "Be fruitful and multiply." is not a commandment. It's a description of the activity of all life. The purpose of life is to perpetuate itself. At least that's what observation tells me. The individual creature is expendable and the survival of the species is paramount in the hierarchy of life's goals.  For any species to collectively and consciously decide, "There are enough of us now, let's not reproduce so prolifically," would be truly unique. Yet that's our potential as human beings. We actually can decide that, if we choose. We can also decide that fighting each other over territory is not that productive or good for the species. Our ability to destroy ourselves on a massive scale necessitates a new way of looking and thinking about the natural competitive and territorial urges. Once again, we have a lot of potential to think and act differently.

I see the potential for a new human of the future. Envision a conscious transition from a humanity dedicated to the biological imperatives of reproduction and territorial conflict to a humanity that understands that more is not better and that working together is more satisfying than working against each other and against nature. The transition implies overcoming, or at least moderating, the instinctual urges that have driven all life over the last couple of billion years. This would truly be a major change..

If we are able as a species to consciously moderate our biological urges to reduce our population to a sustainable level, that would be something. It would, to me, be the beginning of a significantly new development in nature, not to mention humanity. Although the designation of species and sub-species is based upon physical differences, I think a change in consciousness like this warrants a new name for our subspecies. I propose that the humanity of the future be called Homo sapiens clemens. The name would mean, wise, compassionate, humans (clemens is Latin for compassionately)

Homo sapiens clemens could be the first species to evolve consciously, because we decided to do it. We can establish a population level that does not decimate it's own food supply. We can learn to live with each other without vying for power and territory. We can work consciously with nature. This is what will be necessary if humanity is going to make it into the next millennium. So let's give it a go, eh? Why not? Let's evolve!


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Royce Carlson