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A Better Human Story #4-- Humankind's Perilous Step into Terra Incognita: The Rise of Civilization

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler       (Page 1 of 14 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   9 comments

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All previous entries in this series can be found here.


We now approach what may be the most pivotal part of what I've called my "integrative vision": an idea I call "the parable of the tribes." ("Pivotal" meaning so much of the human story turns on what this idea depicts.)

From the moment that idea came to me, in 1970, it has seemed to me a very Big Deal. "Receiving" that idea was a bone-shaking experience for me, and pretty much the rest of my life has hinged on my promise, made right then, to do my best to communicate it to my fellow humans.

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Here I am, 47 years later, trying once again to convey it, hoping that it will have an impact on people's understanding of "the human story" something like it has had on mine. I know that there are people on whom it has had such an impact. (I couldn't say how many.) But I'd say that -- while swinging for the fences -- what I managed to hit was a single.

I'm still striving for more RBIs with this piece of the "integrative vision." Not only for the original reasons of wanting this idea to change how people understand the meaning of human history, but also because this piece can help illuminate the rest of that vision -- I've been developing in the decades since --in the proper light.

So, as you've doubtless noticed if you've been reading this series, I've been laying the groundwork, in various ways, for its presentation. (For example, in previous installments I sought to create the itch that the parable of the tribes might scratch.)

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And now, one more piece of groundwork-laying: before moving into the substance, I will take a moment to try to remove what I imagine to be an obstacle in the way of this idea being seen for what it is and what it offers.


There is something inherently awkward about undertaking this "Better Human Story" series. On the one hand, the whole impetus for writing it is my conviction that there is something important at stake here, that it could really matter whether or not this "integrative vision" becomes a major way for people to understand the human world.

On the other hand, claiming such a thing for one's ideas will inevitably raise questions about both the claim and the claimant.

Let me tell a story that can help address at least one of those questions that would arise in my mind if I were a reader.

That idea I claim to be a Big Deal -- the idea I call "the parable of the tribes" --was published reasonably prominently in book form in 1984.

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The fact that this supposedly Big Deal idea has been out into the world for more than thirty years would make me wonder, in your place:

"If the idea really were some Big Deal why, more than three decades later, would it still be relatively obscure -- hardly a Big Deal -- in the world?"

You would think!

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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