Our ancestors’ ingenuity and know-how kept them alive for untold generations – long enough for us to come along. Everything they knew is still available to us. We’re just not using it because we’ve let it go missing from the stories we tell ourselves.
The story of our time says that supermarkets, superstores, pharmacies, and “health food stores” provide everything we need.
And it’s lucky for us that we have all these shopping options, because we don’t know how to make or grow any of that stuff ourselves.
In this story, our health and well-being rely on mass-produced personal care products, supplements in pills and capsules, pharmaceuticals, white-coated experts, institutions, and high-tech medicine.
And it’s lucky for us that we have all these experts and institutions, because we don’t know our neighbors well enough to rely on them in a pinch.
(Nor do we know our own selves. If we did, we’d wise up to this story of dependency, and change it.)
We’re shaped by the stories we tell ourselves
Our story tells us that we’re dependent on strangers and technology, and that we have no agency to change the way things are. It’s a story that makes us powerless.
We’re unable to imagine how our ancestors cared for their families before there were dentists, doctors, and high-tech medicine. We see them through the lens of our own assumptions and assume that their lives were “nasty, brutish, and short.”
But our ancestors were successful at caring for themselves using the plants and resources they found around them (or we wouldn’t be here). They were not dependent on strangers, and I’m guessing that they were too busy getting on with life to feel powerless.
Archeological evidenceii tells us that 45,000 to 80,000 years ago Neanderthals, close relatives of our ancestors, used medicinal herbs and successfully cared for injured, infirm, and aged family members who could not have provided for themselves, ensuring their survival over years or decades.
The more we learn about our ancient ancestors, the less brutish they look.
Let’s drop that idea
Our ancestors’ ingenuity and know-how kept them alive for untold generations – long enough for us to come along.
The only thing that’s stopping us from caring for ourselves just as successfully, is a modern-day story that tells us we can’t.
Of course, we’re blessed to have experts and high-tech medicine for when we need them.
But the idea that we can’t take care of our basic health needs at home ourselves is ridiculous.
And it’s incredibly dis-empowering.
Let’s drop that idea.
i Healing modalities such as conventional medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, … and food science … evolved from herbalism. … Professions such herbalists, healers, bonesetters, dentists, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, surgeons, and massage therapists all owe their origins to herbalism.” From Phyllis Light, in “What is Herbalism