¶ So long as you live in a civilized or thickly populated community you will still need to understand your own nature and the natures of other people. No matter what you desire of life, other people’s aims, ambitions and activities constitute vital obstructions along your pathway. You will never get far without the co-operation, confidence and comradeship of other men and women.
¶ It was not always so. And its recentness in human history may account for some of our blindness to this great fact.
In primitive times people saw each other rarely and had much less to do with each other. The human element was then not the chief problem. Their environmental problems had to do with such things as the elements, violent storms, extremes of heat and cold, darkness, the ever-present menace of wild beasts whose flesh was their food, yet who would eat them first unless they were quick in brain and body.
¶ But all that is changed. Man has subjugated all other creatures and now walks the earth its supreme sovereign. He has discovered and invented and builded until now we live in skyscrapers, talk around the world
“world without wires and by pressing a button turn darkness into daylight.
Causes of Failure
¶ Yet with all our knowledge of the outside world ninety-nine lives out of every hundred are comparative failures.
¶ The reason is plain to every scientific investigator. We have failed to study ourselves in relation to the great environmental problem of today. The stage-setting has been changed but not the play. The game is the same old game—you must adjust and adapt yourself to your environment or it will destroy you.
Mastering His Own Environment
¶ The cities of today look different from the jungles of our ancestors and we imagine that because the brain of man overcame the old menaces no new ones have arisen to take their place. We no longer fear extermination from cold. We turn on the heat. We are not afraid of the vast oceans which held our primitive forebears in thrall, but pass swiftly, safely and luxuriously over their surfaces. And soon we shall be breakfasting in New York and dining the same evening in San Francisco!
Facing New Enemies
¶ But in building up this stupendous superstructure of modern civilization man has brought into being a society
“intricate and complex that he now faces the new environmental problem of human relationships.
The Modern Spider’s Web
¶ Today we depend for life’s necessities almost wholly upon the activities of others. The work of thousands of human hands and thousands of human brains lies back of every meal you eat, every journey you take, every book you read, every bed in which you sleep, every telephone conversation, every telegram you receive, every garment you wear.
And this fellowman of ours has multiplied, since that dim distant dawn, into almost two billion human beings, with at least one billion of them after the very things you want, and not a tenth enough to go around!
Adapt or Die
¶ Who will win? Nature answers for you. She has said with awful and inexorable finality that, whether you are a blade of grass on the Nevada desert or a man in the streets of London, you can win only as you adapt yourself to your environment. Today our environmental problem consists largely of the other fellow. Only those who learn to adapt themselves to their fellows can win great or lasting rewards.”
The Goddess Bibles
A Memoir By Laura Zukerman