One could venture that society is one
of our defining attributes in becoming the living apex of our
modern world. After all it more than just a pack or group of
humans living under a collection of relatively tight rules. Of
course the desire to live together is no way unique to us as
even the lowly bacteria form colonies.
Many species have adopted the advantage of the colony for both
mutual defence and the power of mass attack against prey. This
has to outweigh its disadvantages such as having to share food
and basically putting up with others who get on your nerves.
This sharing of duties also demands a level of communication
that reflects the sophistication of the species. Rules also come
into existence to serve the community as a whole and override
the natural resentment of individuals. Hierarchy also arises as
a way of keeping the group together, usually against their
wishes. The reason it works, is that anarchy is a great T-Shirt
but not a long term strategy.
Although many organisms have complex sexual and population
groupings, none of them have the depth and range of humans.
Having children that use great resources to bring them to
maturation demands both great and extended care. No other animal
has such a long learning curve and no other animal has the
advanced cognition that humans possess. The whole involvement
spins off many different and involved rituals and requirements
that can be so complicated that their true reason can be masked.
Marriage for instance is used to protect offspring, to wield
power associations and some times true attraction. It is said
that romance in humans is a two to four year near insane
relationship that is chemically induced to get the child past a
certain level of dependence. This is a very important activity
and should not be underestimated. A child learns more in its
first two years than it does for the rest of its life. Also it
starts losing about half of its neurons at this time. The
neurons with the best dendritic network survive, the rest are
replaced by Glial cells that can nurse the neurons through the
rest of your life. If life is all about passing our genes on,
this is it in practice. All our suits and fancy frocks, high
paying jobs, power and influence are all about getting your
genes out there.
Obviously we cannot be just defined by our genetic desires, as
we above all animals can think abstractly, we are more than
slaves to our genes. Our wonder of creation and to seek the
answers to our existence, is a joy to behold. No other organism
sits under a tree and studies the meaning of life, our place in
it and why did that apple land on my head.