15.6.07

NOSTALGIC FOR CHILD LABOR? A Time essay by a retired Berkeley anthropologist calls out the contemporary male for being neglectful of his offspring.
Homo sapiens produces the most slowly maturing young of all mammals. Among foraging humans, children need 19 years--and consume 13 million calories--before producing more food for their community than they take from it, according to research by anthropologist Hillard Kaplan. You'd think fathers would be hardwired to provide for such needy offspring ...
Maybe it's better that fathers made use of that sapiens to come up with improvements on foraging that provided conditions for sapient anthropologists to reflect on the evolution of the human condition. The examples the essayist cites bring to mind that part of the world where people attempt to eke out a living on $3 a day.
Today we take child survival for granted, but in traditional societies, 40% of offspring might die before age 5. To keep infants safe, it made sense for them to be held at all times. With Mom often caring for more than one offspring and Dad busy rustling up food, the job sometimes had to be outsourced to grandmothers, aunts and others.
Isn't that also the reality for many children growing up in the projects?

By all means, study history, study cultural evolution, but please keep some perspective. It's the Habits of Highly Effective People that produce prosperity, dear reader, not the ur-hippie-commune parenting practices of foragers.

No comments: