The War That’s Been Raging For 70,000 Years

Imagine it this way. 


Natural Selection is the only shareholder of a global business called All Living Things. Well for however many millions or thousands of years, Natural Selection called all the shots. 


And it was working well. But then, one of its subsidiaries decided it wanted a competitive advantage. It didn’t want to be contained by the circle of life with a lowly step in the food-chain. It wanted more of an advantage, at which point it discovered something that enabled it to take its destiny into its own hands. 


The subsidiary was called Humanity. That discovery was The Cognitive Revolution. 


This took place almost 70,000 year ago. The Cognitive Revolution is basically the point where homo sapiens were able to share ideas and stories that heightened their self-awareness.


This gave humans their first big edge in the game of evolution – they no longer had to be the most physically dominant, but they could now coordinate more effectively. (Of course this Revolution is explained in much more detail in books like Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari). 


Now this discovery was disruptive and controversial


Natural Selection was proud of it’s system – it seemed to keep everything in check.

And so the Cognitive Revolution was a game-changer, similar to the cryptocurrency revolution. There was now a new advantage that would now enable Humanity to supersede the market system created by Natural Selection.


In the same way, cryptocurrencies permit holders of cryptocurrency to operate outside of the world’s regulated monetary system – they are now playing their own game which clashes with the old one.

Let’s discuss how these games are different.


You see, Natural Selection cares only about the bottom-line. 


Natural Selection cares only about the bottom-line. Think of Natural Selection like a crude industrialist or slave-master who cares only about money coming in, and not about work conditions.


A marketplace shaped by Natural Selection is ruled by only one thing – genetic material. No other variables or currencies matter.


Natural Selection does not care about making customers or employees feel happy – it only cares about passing your genetic material onto the next generation. That’s it. 


But Humanity became interested in much  more. 


Because of the Cognitive Revolution, Humanity’s heightened self-awareness made it less and less content with a world that was concerned only with the passing on of genetic material from one generation to the next.


Humanity came to care about the whole experience of customers and employees, of their meaning and fulfillment. Alas, it was and still is, a small player in a big marketplace.


We came to understand that this makes for better survival. After all, when we treat our employees better, they perform better. If we care about our customer’s experiences, they’ll drive more value from the service and recommend it to others. That will make for a better world.


Natural Selection on the other hand looks at each customer as a one-off transaction – not a repeat customer.


And the war goes on. 


Natural Selection has been used to focusing on the bottom-line for millions of years, and so it will take a very long-time before it catches up to any form of thinking that is more progressive and holistic. 


Perhaps it will never care about making people happy and imbuing their lives with meaning. Natural Selection is old and stubborn, set in its ways. And can you blame it? These ways have been working ever since the Big Bang!


Don’t forget that part of our brain is profoundly shaped by Natural Selection. 


In other writing I have referred to this part of our brain as Astro the Dog for the reason that it doesn’t speak English or any of our modern languages. It only understands conditioning and reinforcement over periods of time. 


Not everyone uses cryptocurrency, not everyone uses a dishwasher, people still read hard copy books and do their groceries in-store instead of online.


Even when we make new discoveries, it takes time for patterns of behaviour to shift. What we live through are times where the majority of our thinking power has been shaped by a process of Natural Selection (the part I call Astro the Dog).


But a small part of our thinking, the part we might think of as our conscious selves, thinks differently and constantly clashes with Astro, constantly trying to wrestle control.


Trying to sell horse-and-cart in the world of tomorrow. 


How can I convey to you how old, stubborn and out of touch old Natural Selection is? Ok let me put it to you this way. Imagine that Natural Selection, the long time player, were a modern vendor still trying to sell horse-and-cart as the best way of transport in our modern era. 


No matter how our roads, automobile and electric-car technology progress, our big ships, our planes and space shuttles… this old-fashioned business partner is so myopic that it cannot see past horse-and-cart as the best way around. 


As the market for transport changes more and more over time, this old way of thinking becomes even more outdated. The approach of sticking with what always worked becomes less and less appropriate for our modern environment. 


Where do you see the evidence for this war? 


So next time you feel so thoroughly confused at your own ill-feelings you might pause to ask where the dispute between these marketplaces is causing havoc in your own mind. 


On one hand we have our conscious thinking, the progressive young revolutionary, the one who sees how the market has changed. On the other hand, we have the old, regimented majority shareholder, Natural Selection. 




With Joe Wehbe Podcast episode #020 is dedicated to this topic.

Don’t forget to check out the Future Shapers’ talk and channel. 


Also recommended articles: 


Astro the Dog

Maslow’s Hierarchy, the Comfort Ladder and the Luxury Trap

The Pleasure Treadmill 

Why aren’t 365 good days the same as a good year?


Who do you think of when you read this? Would this piece ‘open a door’ for someone you know? If so, then share it with them.  

The best way to open a thousand doors for you is to open doors for others. 

With Joe Wehbe – The Podcast

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