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Harriet Berkal

Harriet Berkal: Hunters & Gatherers - Time to Reconfigure

by Harrriet Berkal Dec1, 2020

Recently, I had a genetic test completed to determine if I suffered from a specific gene mutation. Look how far we have come in decoding our human composition. Are we likely to develop certain diseases, are we prone to specific symptoms our forefathers endured? Or can we play a role in defining our destiny to some extent or another?


The data I received, was fascinating. Certain information was expected, but I apparently have 5% of my genetic makeup from the Neanderthal grouping, as many of us share. It is estimated that 20% of Neanderthal DNA currently survives in modern humans. (Wikipedia)


So back in the prehistoric ages, the challenges were many. No there were no grocery stores, banks, or movie theatres. Neither were there any schools social media, or gyms. Think extremely basic. You get up in the morning and your sole responsibility is to find food to survive another day. Pretty simple as a goal but often very difficult to ascertain.


They developed a successful culture, with a complex stone tool technology, that was based on hunting, with some scavenging and local plant collection. Their survival during tens of thousands of years of the last glaciation is a remarkable testament to human adaptation.


So how adaptable are we as humans now ? It’s 102 years since the earth found itself plagued by the Spanish Flu pandemic. 50 million people died world wide, 500 million or 1/3 of world’s population were infected.


Fast track to 2020. What a year, 2020 will go down as, in the history books. Unlike the Neanderthals, we don’t spend our days seeking food. Oh sorry, I stand corrected as there do appear to be food line ups throughout the states. It’s not that there isn’t any food, it’s just that far too many people have lost their jobs and don’t have the resources to purchase essential items.


We are experiencing Covid 19 and in part, we have made our own bed. It certainly would have been beneficial to have been warned exactly how deadly this virus was, earlier on, so more preventive measures could have been taken.


But now, we know from the science what MUST be done to flatten the curve and yet humans are not all adapting or cooperating to save the lives of their brethren. What is this about?


None of us are enjoying the realty and pain a pandemic brings. I imagine for some, they either feel invincible or their lives haven’t been touched by a Covid death yet. But it’s unconscionable to disregard the good of the tribe and refuse to carry on the simplest precautionary measures to keep everyone safe.


Initially, Manitoba was the pride of Canada with very low infection rates. Several months later we are the focus of a nation running amuck.


If you aren’t prepared to wear a mask and socially distance or isolate - will you be prepared to be vaccinated when it is made available ? Someone suggested to me that perhaps these individuals protesting, might waive their rights now, to a future vaccine, given their outrageous behaviour. Sadly, we will want them vaccinated. 


We aren’t adjusting and modifying well as a community to this second wave ( if we can even call it that) so that begs the question, how will respond to a third wave?


Is it an inevitability that things must get worse before they get better? I refuse to accept that notion. It’s our collective moral duty, yes duty, to play our part in surviving this pandemic.


The statistics appear to many as merely numbers versus someone’s mother, aunt or sister. Each death has a life story. There is a loss and a huge void left with each passing. How can anyone dispute that?


So the bed we make we lie in it. We can’t run away from it. It’s here but how long it stays, rests on us and our behaviour. Ownership is what we require to ensure that line is flattened as soon as possible.


The Neanderthals didn’t have it cozy like we do. They likely lay on dry grass, wearing animal skins for warmth, in cold, dark caves. 


Let us all be enlightened that we have it better than them. If you agree with that premise, you will do your part in our collective role to try and defeat this virus. Time to reconfigure hunters and gatherers, and to get our sh*t together and NOW.


The following song "In My Bed" sung by my daughter, Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, speaks to ownership and responsibility. We make our own bed. We can do better. Otherwise the problem will not dissipate and if we don’t face this demon head on with proper protocols, it will still be here when we wake up tomorrow. 


Click here to download an MP3.

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