I don’t know if it was all the stories I read as a kid about the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood, and the Three Musketeers, or if it was my Mennonite upbringing, but I am “All for one and one for all” at my core. I’ve just always thought we were all in this together. So imagine my delight when I came across a summary of a study that shows our ancestors knew this and because they worked together, we’re here today.
It’s all thanks to a shift in the way they fed themselves. Instead of simply grazing on whatever was at hand, like our great ape cousins did, our ancestors became hunter-gathers and horticulturalists. They risked expending a lot of energy for a greater reward: more, high calorie food. But it only worked because they worked together and shared.
Herman Pontzer, co-leader of the study, says sharing provides a safety net, enabling some group members to take risks, targeting big game and other high-risk, high-reward foods. If they came home empty-handed, they knew others would have something to share. The possibility of sharing food also meant some group members could even stay home on occasion, enjoying one of our most precious commodities: free time.
“This slight shift in the way that we go about getting our food has fundamentally made everything else possible,” Pontzer said. Free time allows group members to communicate about things other than food. It allows for experimentation, for learning, for creativity, for play, for culture.
This foundation was so important for our survival that we can find exhortations to continue it in the texts of every faith. And it’s why, when I sit down to a meal, I think of all the people who helped make it possible, from the farmer who raised the food, to all the people who supported him, those who designed and then built the roads and the people who figured out the logistics to get it to the store, the people who designed and built the vehicles and the buildings, the person at the checkout…I could go on, but you get the idea.
We’re all in this together.
Thanks for reading!