The modern world is killing Charles Darwin.
There was a time, 10,000 years ago, before the Fertile Crescent, before agriculture, before civilization, in which if a person wasn’t smart enough to find his own food and avoid leopard attacks, he would be killed, and his genes would not propagate. Hunter-Gatherers sustained themselves by, well, hunting and gathering food. They were also able to maintain life by living in small, closely-knit communities that cared for each other and provided a safety net.
In present day society though, our safety net is provided by civilization. We don’t really need family or friends to care for us (even if we do prefer it). We get our food from the grocery store, or restaurants, or, if we can’t provide for ourselves, we dumpster-dive, or eat at a homeless shelter, or ask for a handout.
This is, of course, a more humane way of living, and we should be grateful that the standard of life for humanity has risen since the days of cave-painting. But there is one negative found within this giant safety net: the genetically inferior still get the chance to procreate.1
Nowadays, even the stupidest and most physically inept can survive in the world, and find someone who’s willing to have their children. Of course we read things like “The Darwin Awards” about people who have killed themselves by eating peanut butter off the barrel of a revolver or something, but these aren't the norm, and appear to have gone out of their way to avoid the structure that has been put in place to stop their unnecessary demise.
Take, for example, Sean. Sean was a guy I used to work with at a popular chain restaurant in college. At 21 years old, he was our longest-serving busboy, and seemed to relish his position. Sean was a well-meaning guy—usually upbeat and positive, but very obviously unable to make decisions on his own, lacked judgment, and always making the only mistakes that one could possibly make in his job that consisted pretty much of wiping off tables. He often wore leather chaps over his jeans, as he rode a motorcycle. I promise you, he wasn’t retarded.
On Sean’s 21st birthday, the gang took him out on the town for his first legal drink. Sean, being who he was, was already a very heavy drinker, and was constantly bragging about how much he was able to imbibe.
“Man, I got wasted last night,” he might say. “I drank a case and a half of Coors Light.” He would pause, checking to see if you were impressed.
“That seems dangerous,” I noted once.
“And after that I drank half a bottle of Crown.”
“Awesome!” That’s when he would look for the high-five.
As a joke, on that birthday, someone bought him five shots of silver tequila. Well, actually, that’s not true. They bought him one shot of silver tequila and four shots of water. They lined up the water first, and the tequila at the end. Finally, they called Sean over to knock the shots off. Eager for attention and to prove how much he could drink, Sean knocked back each of the shots, one at a time, letting out little yelps after each shot. He earned a round of applause and the respect that he had always yearned for from his colleagues. Later, he put his leather chaps back on and drove home.
“I can’t believe he’s not dead,” was a comment that seemed to follow Sean around. It was usually spoken immediately after he’d left the conversation.
“I mean, that guy,” Lan said to me once, “I just can’t believe that he hasn’t swallowed his tongue or something yet. It just seems like he would’ve killed himself somehow by now. I can’t believe he’s not dead.”
One busy weekend evening, Sean came in for a meal, accompanied with a statuesque young black woman with exotically-braided hair. He smiled slyly when people gawked at him and his date as they waited for their table. His table at the restaurant that he worked at as a busboy. They sat down for their meal, and a crowd gathered at the other end of the restaurant where we could all scratch our heads in wonder.
When people see the Trump with a supermodel, nobody who knows who he is wonders how he got her. When that octogenarian married Anna Nicole Smith a few years ago, the situation was pretty clear. But this? This out-of-shape busboy who shouldn’t eat without a bib (but still, I promise, isn’t retarded)? How much money did he have to save up to for her to agree to this?
“I met her on the internet,” Sean boasted to us later. “We’re going out again on Tuesday.”
I blame society.
1It’s important to note here that this essay isn’t about people with birth defects, diseases, or mental retardation. Those people were around pre-civilization as well, and today, just as back then, they don’t get laid that often.