A Tale of Smart Homo Sapiens and Dumb, Dead Neanderthals

Just because something has always been done the same way, doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. For example, there is evidence that Neanderthals ate the brains of their dead comrades. Well, more than the brains, but the brains are where we will focus for now . . . because there are prions in the brain that can cause the human equivalent of mad cow disease, which is always fatal. There are experts who propose that brain-eating contributed to the fall of the Neanderthal race, but even if you told a Neanderthal to knock it off because it wasn’t good for him/her, what are the chances they would give a flying fart? Because, you know . . . tradition!!!! Neanderthals have always eaten brains! Thank heavens we are so much smarter nowadays and learn from our mistakes. You know, the big boo-boos like WWII, fossil fuels and religious wars . . . things we will make sure never, ever happen again! Phew . . .

Of course, there are the very, very few humans (really, just a small handful, hardly worth mentioning, but what the hell, I have the computer open and I’m typing anyways . . .) who refuse to learn from mistakes, especially those made by their immediate ancestors. There are studies that suggest people who beat their children do so because they were beaten by their own parents, and if they opt to NOT beat their children, it might intimate that Mom and Dad were wrong in their approach to childrearing, and, well, that would be far worse than ensuring healthy human beings emerge from the nest and go forth into the world. I mean, who couldn’t understand that? Hitler is a prime example of a child who was beaten and humiliated by a dictatorial father who then went out into the world and made something of himself despite his early abuse, and the fact that he only had one testicle. No, this is true . . . Google it!!! There’s even a really catchy song about it!

Sometimes people do change and it totally freaks everyone out. I remember when my friend Loretta came home from her first year of college and announced she was a vegetarian. She handed out brochures about how to cook with tofu like a Jehova’s Witness presses Watchtowers into the hands of passing infidels. As with the scads of Watchtowers I’d been handed, I dropped the tofu primer into the circular file cabinet, laughed with my mother about how weird some people are, and moved on. I probably stopped to roll a slice of ham up in a piece of Swiss cheese and eat it standing in front of the open fridge door. Tradition!!! Nothing wrong with it, dammit!

Except two years later, in 1982, I watched my father-in-law grind chunks of beef in his electric grinder and saw the blood pouring out alongside the meat and I never ate meat again. For just a moment, I allowed myself to absorb the fact that hamburger came from a living, breathing, feeling animal. An animal whom I would have climbed a wire fence to hug and pet despite impending risk of electrocution or goring. And when I made the announcement, much later and only after much questioning about why I wasn’t eating the roast beef or turkey, and muttered the word “vegetarian” under my breath as I ran for the nearest exit . . . my husband, parents, siblings and extended family were truly sympathetic and understanding. Not one of them called me weird, none of them snuck ground beef into the “special” veggie meal they made for me, and not one of them walked out of my wedding to my second husband because the food was vegetarian (actually, two walked out and a third threatened to, but a cousin kept buying him drinks thereby holding him hostage at the bar.) Tradition, dammit! It’s so much more important than love, empathy, sympathy, or even reason and common sense!

But when I became a vegetarian was a long, long time ago and I’m old now. In 2019, humanity has learned that meat and dairy cause more fatal diseases than cigarette smoking, alcohol and maybe even Coca Cola and Pepsi combined (but don’t quote me on that last one.) We also know that factory farming is responsible for polluting millions of acres of land and endless water sources. We’ve learned that billions of cattle and other overbred livestock roaming the earth emit more greenhouse gases and contribute more to global warming than all of the combined cars on the planet! Even Al Gore finally gave up steak, despite it being damned inconvenient for him. (Thank you, Al!)

And because we are not at all like the stupid Neanderthals who couldn’t break their brain-eating habit (and also, because we are so smart there are absolutely no people left who think Hitler was too cool for school,) we’ve stopped all of that silliness in order to save the planet and be kinder, gentler and way, way SMARTER AND MORE PROACTIVE than our dim-witted ancestors.

Phew! Thank goodness! Because if we hadn’t dramatically changed our ways and stopped all that nonsense, scientists (remember them and when they were held in high esteem? Seems like only a few short years ago . . .) predicted we were staring at the end of life on our planet within a matter of DECADES! Like, my grandchildren would likely not finish out a normal lifespan if we didn’t get our acts together!

Yep, thank goodness those Neanderthals died out and we homo sapiens are so much smarter and more advanced than those dumb, dead brain-eaters.

Because otherwise, you know, we’d be doomed . . .

Kathleen Schurman is owned by Locket’s Animal Rescue and Sanctuary and spends her days shoveling more kinds of manure than can be listed in this brief space. She’s generally far too busy to stay current with current events, so please excuse any gaps in her knowledge of what’s happening in the world today.



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