Blog # 148 IN ONE ERA AND OUT THE OTHER (A Slide Show)


The reductionist inclination to see the world population in terms of two distinct categories, “we” and “they,” remarkably, has its authentic origin in early man’s fear of predators. It is felt that the persistence of such atavistic terror is the foundation of the current contentious debate concerning immigration policy. To illustrate our observation, we have taken the liberty to set forth a rather simplified, but accurate, portrayal of the ascent of man and his dire concern for the safety of his clan and habitation.  In order to cover the vast range of time, we have created a (written) “slide show.”

[Slide # 1]

In the primal days of human existence, the fortunate availability of a cave, especially one in proximity to a water source, together with a (smoky) fire, provided the primitive clan with a modicum of shelter from the elements; food, when available, obtained by hunting and gathering, provided necessary sustenance. However, the cave’s most significant utility was its protection from predatory animals and strangers.

Some early form of communication, of necessity, was developed within the insular cave dwelling clan. Tools were ingeniously devised to facilitate labor and, in general, the small inter-dependent group was able to achieve a basic feeling of community and above all, of safety.

[Slide # 2]

A great many centuries passed, and the residential cave morphed into the “hut” (or tent), which when associated with other huts, constituted a modest subsisting community with enhanced language capability. Life was, to a degree, less insular and lonely, but by far, of greatest significance, was the potential of a group capable of providing better protection from predators and “outsiders.”

The subsistence-level community eventually took up agriculture and,in time, mastered skills which resulted in a sea-change from a subsistence economy to one capable of producing a surplus in excess of the community’s need.

[Slide # 3]

Inter-community trade developed, featuring the exchange of surplus goods which necessitated a common language and a species of monetary exchange .Interaction with outside groups resulted in the enlargement of the market location and hence, more safe territory; the fear of the “other” was ameliorated to a degree.

[Slide # 4]

Such communities subsequently expanded into larger entities, eventually into the city-state as well as other geo-political entities. Such entities afforded a much improved lifestyle and recognized languages as various ethnic and tribal groups interacted. Battlements, city walls, moats and other forms of joint defense were established in keeping with the traditionally primary and ever-present concern for security against invasion. Sometimes, it was decided that, in order to preserve future safety, it was necessary to initiate an attack against others.

[Slide #5]

In this modern era, the question may be raised as to the continuing negative perception of the foreigner or the immigrant, and the often expressed opposition to his admission to our country for inclusion within our society. Such animated opposition to the admission of applicants seeking admission to our country, inarguably, a country consisting entirely of immigrants and their progeny { how soon they forget} can only be explained, in its etiology, by the continued existence of the same atavistic and primal fear of predators or predatory people, maintained  by the cave man. It is curious that in a nation justifiably priding itself on the nation’s exponential advances in science and general enlightenment, you can wonder about how many “smart phone” denizens of our society fear the foreigner. { n.b.: etranger” (stranger) = French word for foreigner}.

In the 20th Century, an idealistic organization, believed that a common world language would encourage universal personal interaction leading to feelings of security and permanent peace. The language was called “Esperanto” and the movement failed miserably.

It is disheartening to observe that the cave man mentality still survives and, significantly, still affects our policy and statutes regarding immigration. Will the time ever arrive when the calibrated lines demarking nations and cultures ever fade in importance, and when the modern distrust of the foreigner be relegated to the dust bin of atavistic cave man mentality?

Did you ever notice that your perception of another person as having a foreign accent? The pedestrian saying, “To the other guy, you are the other guy,” has resonance here. Your ethnocentric inclinations may prevent you from the consideration that to that foreigner, ”you” have an accent.

[Slide #6]

It is certainly time to lay down the spear and the war club, for good, and comfortably welcome the newcomer who aspires to live a free and good life, just as we do.


Published by


Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s