4 Weeks of Anthropology
The key to understanding life as it is now, and how we want to better the future, is by understanding our past. There is much beneath the surface of humanity that we don’t know, much of it we won’t ever know, but after 4 weeks of college, I’ve been shown how much there is to learn.
As an anthropology major, the study of humans, I have learned many things that have already impacted me, and I haven’t even touched on the main course of the subject.
Anything regarding humans can be considered anthropology. This includes, psychology, sociology, criminology (a lot of ologies), and many others. Because humans are a huge part of the world today, and being human ourselves, I guess we don’t realize what we are as a species.
I am currently taking three anthropology classes, and while each field is different from the others, they have all taught me very similar lessons.
In biological anthropology, so far, I’ve learned about natural selection, how evolution can take place, and how some chance events can change everything. Humans are not the only animals that exist, and the way our species has evolved is quite miraculous. Because of random happenstances throughout time, we have become the species that is different than others. Look at how much we have done compared to where we began. If we hadn’t evolved the way we did, we wouldn’t have the knowledge we have now about the world, and I wouldn’t be here writing this, pursuing a writing career to make the world a better place.
In world archeology, we’ve talked about the history of humans, the time it has taken to evolve from primates to hominins to humans. There’s been much change in the millions of years that our ancestors existed. This has shown me that our history is important, not only recent history to learn from, like wars and violence, but also looking back at how far we have come, that having violence and hostility in our current environment is something we should also evolve from. Intelligence that we have developed should lead us to a conclusion, that the things we are bothered by in society can be changed, and should be, if we all put in our effort to make it that way.
In cultural anthropology, my focus, we have talked about the differences in our cultures, in the way we live, not only between different types of people, but between our own societies. There are many different cultures just within the United States, and some anthropological perspectives can help create a balance through that. An idea that has really stuck with me most, has been the idea of cultural relativism, which is the idea that each culture is unique and distinctive, but that no one culture is superior. Now this sentence can be taken in many ways. The way I view it, human differences are good, and are necessary in building care and love and character within a society. Each culture has different morals, and so does each person. No one has the same exact views on everything, and this idea can help make everyone a better person.
I understand that everyone has their own beliefs, and if someone else is doing something immoral, they want to address their opinion. I know this is also important in human nature. As for my own opinion, every person has the potential to be good, loving, and caring of everyone else. While other people have a different moral compass than I do, I also like to think that many problems in our society would go away if we all strived to be more understanding, more compassionate, and believe that cultural relativism is important. It’s good to have differences of beliefs, but the amount of hate that creates is ridiculous.
If every person was kind to every other person from the get-go, many stereotypes would fade, violence would decrease, children might not become bullies which would lead to fewer suicides, school shootings, diagnoses of depression and anxiety, and create an environment that everyone wants to live in. This is an optimistic point of view, because not every problem would go away, and it’s unlikely that every person would want to be accepting of everyone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, outlook on life, etc.
But can you imagine if everyone’s moral compass was to be kind to anyone on the street no matter what?
That’s the world I want to live in. From what I have learned in my classes, every person is from the same ancestor; we all have flesh and blood; we can all make a difference in our society.
“The purpose of Anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.” –Ruth Benedict