cave man

by Eric Santillan

If an alien visited the earth many thousands of years ago, and saw the animals in the plains of Africa–the sabre-tooth tiger with its speed and power, the mammoth with its protective hide, the buffalo, the antelope, and the human–and the alien was asked to bet on who would survive and lord it over the earth, he would have given his money on the tiger. Or the mammoth.

Lowly man didn’t have the speed of the tiger, or the protective hair of the mammoth. He had everything going against him. Our young can’t even walk months after birth–not like the young of the horse or antelope. We don’t have claws to protect ourselves. We can’t fly. We can’t breath in water.

Man, it seems, has lost the raffle of the gods.

A thousand years later, the alien (if the alien lived more than a thousand years) would have come back to earth and gotten the shock of its life.

Because we have come to dominate our world. In order to do that, we had to come together in communities to protect our young, to develop tools, to get the hide of other animals to protect ourselves from the cold. We cannot outrun other animals, so we had to make traps. We couldn’t walk around the earth forever as nomads hunting animals, so we had to stop and plant our food. We were not strong, so we molded the earth. We lost the raffle of the Gods.

And gained dominion over the earth.

We were disadvantaged, but that disadvantage made us try harder, made us who we are.

A final story. Somebody once said that if Jose Rizal was one inch taller, he wouldn’t be our national hero. Rizal was a short man–only 4’11”. He was bullied by his much taller mestizo classmates. When he was growing up, he was the runt of the family. But the insecurity–and the overcoming of it–made Rizal a great man. If he was taller, he wouldn’t have tried as much and not have become the man he was.

Because sometimes, you don’t have to be the strongest. Or the quickest. You don’t have to be a sabertooth, or a mammoth.

You just have to be human.

And THAT is enough.

About Eric Santillan

AngPeregrino is Eric Santillan. He is a management consultant for two firms specializing in sustainable business, competitiveness and risk management, cost control and culture management. During weekends, he does counselling for Clinica Salutare, an Integrative Health Clinic. He is also a writer for The Mindanao Current, a core group member of Heroic Leadership Philippines, and a retreat giver.

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