The wise man, namely Homo sapiens sapiens is the only surviving species of its genus. This is somewhat unusual.
The animals of most genera have surviving “cousins”, that is species that belong to their kin.
The lion is referred as Panthera leo. Panthera denotes the genus, leo denotes the species. The Panthera genus includes three cousins: the tiger (Panthera tigris), the jaguar (Panthera onca) and the leopard (Panthera pardus).
The lion has some “half-brothers”, recognized subspecies like the Congo Lion (Panthera leo hollisteri) or the Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo goojratensis).
The man is left alone, deprived of any close relatives. We refer to ourselves as Homo sapiens sapiens. Homo refers to the genus. The first sapiens (possessing sanity, the wise) denotes the species. The second sapiens denotes the subspecies and emphasizes our wisdom.
Our genus (Homo) has comprised at times other species, too: Homo halibis (the handy, skilful man), Homo Erectus (the erected man) that walked this Earth for more than 500,000 years, the famous Homo neanderthalensis (Neanderthal man) and other species and subspecies of the humans.
But none survived when the time of sapiens sapiens had come. There is also a distinct lack of time overlaps. When a new species of Homo appears, the previous one disappears “mysteriously” (within a limited time space of a few thousand years).
Why are we left alone, we the wise?
Conquest and dominance are the keywords. When the Homo immigrate, they cover greater distances than lions. Panthera leo are able to survive only in certain areas. The Homo can adapt anywhere. Excluding Antarctica, there are fossils and isolated tribes that were found on any given continent or no matter how isolated island.
But every time a band of Homo bumped into a different one, there was war about territorial sovereignty, food and the females.
The Neanderthals never mixed with the Sapiens, gene-wise, thanks to love. It would be a joke to think of a Neanderthal as “Romeo” and a Sapiens as “Juliet” who stands on the balcony of her cave reciting: “Oh Romeo, why are you Romeo? You are a Neanderthal and I am a Sapiens”.
It was war, raids, will for dominance. The males were killing the male opponents and then they were taking the females to their group.
It wasn’t love, it was rape.
(The Neanderthal is also referred as Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, as a subspecies of Sapiens, his first cousin, and that is why the mix of genes was feasible. Different species cannot produce fertile descendants, just like the horse [Equus ferus] when hybridized with the donkey [Equus africanus] they produce the infertile mule).
Not always the brightest were the winners, as it serves us to believe in order to justify our existence as part of the evolution, as part of the progress.
There have been discovered fossils from Homo, like the Boskop Man (Homo capensis) whose skull was at least 25% larger than ours. They disappeared, they became extinct very quickly. Probably because they could not fight back the barbarianism of the stupid ones.
Those lost relatives of ours could be peaceful and found themselves facing the hordes of Neanderthals, the Sapiens.
We are the descendants of those who exterminated the others.
The “others” exist no more. Or will “others” always exist?
Heathens, allogenous, foreign speakers.
Different likes, different ideas, different ideologies, different preferences, different beliefs.
Different country, different continent, different class, different gender, different sexual proclivity.
Different football team, different music, different food, different job.
Different city, different neighborhood, different floor, different name.
There is always a different man. If there wasn’t, we should invent one. It seems like as if the war on the different guy defines us, our group.
I belong to Us who fight the Others where You belong.
Throughout the entire history of Sapiens people are eager to fight. Sometimes they will go to the ends of the earth to do so. They are not doing this because it makes them happy. They do it because they are convinced that the enemy is the other man and that the other man is the enemy.
The propagandists, the generals, the conquerors, the politicians are not the only ones to blame. There was always the alternative, there had always been proponents of peace, justice, tolerance and equality.
But the Wise Wise Humans choose to carry on killing and getting killed in Troy for shirts.
They carry on killing those who are different to them. They go on destroying what is not in accord with their beliefs. They go on being indifferent for those who drown, for those who starve, let alone they might even take part in the genocide or applaud or approve it.
This is the history of the human species and subspecies: an incessant line of blood.
We exterminated everyone else and we carry on relentlessly, down to the last Homo on this planet. And when the last wise man is gone, what will be left behind from the music of Mozart or Homer’s language?
Perhaps a single vinyl and a book decaying in a jungle where once was a town named New York.
Unless, a new subspecies emerges just before the end: Homo sapiens pacific, the peaceful man.
I drew material from the book Big Brain by Gary Lynch and Richard Granger.