Modern Man and the Ebbing Drive to Survive

The human body is truly impressive. When you think about it, for a complex organism that attributes over half of its body weight to water, it does a remarkable job at keeping us alive. It achieves this thanks to the complex, interacting and interconnected biological systems that comprise it. In working in such dynamic second by second synergy, body and mind, battle forces both intrinsic and extrinsic to them, in remarkable and enduring fashion. It does so hiding in plain sight of our daily life.


The words ‘enduring fashion’ are chosen carefully – for we really have evolved to survive as a human race. We have truly endured. After all we were not always sat in our heated homes, well-fed and guarded from disease by modern medicine. Indeed, through the ages the body and mind have had to work as one to overcome unparalleled hardships that environment, animal and man have yielded.


In this regard, modern life in 2014 is very different to the centuries past…


Obesity, excessive sedentary lifestyles and hedonistic living now threaten us. As a result we have forgotten what a wonderful evolutionary gift we are. We are no longer the men and women who can confidently say that we are built to last. Instead we battle our 21st Century enemies – an expanding waistline, sedentary desk job, and the television remote. Even communication has become as sedentary as our past times with the advent of the Smart Phone and online social networks. Disease is no longer infection and trauma for we have developed technology to overcome those. Instead disease is a social vector for sedentary lives, poor diets and excess of drinking. These have given birth to chronic diseases like type II diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and arthritis. All insidious and hiding in plain sight of our everyday lives for us to look at- but never really see.


Yet medicine advances, life expectancy lengthens, all despite these challenges to years of adaptation.


As testament to our ebbing innate evolutionary desire to survive, the global institution, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have had to take up the mantel to help support and guide the basic needs of survival – exercise, food, shelter. Guidance, we might add, that for our ancestors in the centuries past did not require to help guide them. It was already inherent – their survivor instinct was active – not dormant like today.


The need to survive in modern day is no longer a demand of the physical. It is after all not a requirement; Food is already caught, shelter already built and warmth already generated. It is an altogether different kind of survival. It is a survival of the mind to cope with the social and economic demands and pressures to conform. This does not require the survivorship that evolution nurtured.


So this begs the question – is modern man still equipped to survive like evolution intended? Can the body and mind of the modern man still cope and survive when stripped bare of the essentials of life that are currently served to them on a golden 21st century platter?


Or perhaps, deep within us still, is that hidden survivor instinct and ability just waiting to be awoken…


Just a thought as I had my morning coffee..


Dr Nick


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