Rolling a tread between People and Permaculture

Did Life Suck Before Christopher Columbus?


By Jasmine Wilborne

I want to know what life was like pre- the Christopher Columbus’-of-the-world.

Why? Because I want to make sure that I am not romanticizing life before the “rise of civilization”.

I probably am….even in a tiny bit.  Unfortunately, it is really hard for me to channel what I have been reading and learning about into these blog posts. I want to go into depth, I want to sound right, I want to know what I am talking about. But I really don’t have a firm grasp on the subject.

In essence, my questions are the following:

1. When was poverty made?- The assumption here is that poverty is something that was created and spurred by changes in how the human “economy” functioned and how human relationships operated.

2. How did agriculture over take hunter-gather societies? Where new “farmers” more environmentally friendly than we are today or is agriculture a system that is doomed to fail inherently?

3. At what point in time did the concept of work change?


I’m a huge nerd. Whenever I want to know something, I just read about it. Here are the books I am reading to help me get to the bottom of my questions:


500+ pages of conversational eye-opening exploration on how the world became colonized by Euroasians

I got this because…well I don’t know much about anthropology.

65 million years ago the first primates walked the earth (looking very much like an enlarged rat hahah) and Shablam! Here we are.

Seth got me hooked on this book which really examines our current economic system and makes the following deductions: 1. Our current economic system evolved to meet the needs of our society which used to be met within our communities (tribes, bands etc.): food,  housing, healing, child-care. 2. While our current system meets our needs, it is broken and human relationships which used to be nurtured and sustained by others personally meeting needs means that our social relationships are dismal- we are a society of strangers. 3. There is a way to combine the intimacy and closeness that our pre-civilization communities used to provide through close human contact and dependency….but I haven’t read the end yet! haha.

There is a way to blend the intimacy of past “gift societies” with our current “service-based” society so we can have the best of both worlds…how? Not sure yet!

And then for fun I’m reading this amazing book (I’ve never really been into “thrillers” before):

I have to balance between reading this book and Jared Diamond’s which is due back in about 15 days!

So yeah, that is me according to the books I am reading…there are many more but they have kinda fallen to the way side.  I want to know the history of where humanity has been so that I can understand where we are now so that I can carefully move forward towards remedying the issues we are having.

Peaces everyone! Read on!


Author: zestyjazz

I'm a garden and a bicycle.

26 thoughts on “Did Life Suck Before Christopher Columbus?

  1. I love books! I usually accumulate too many of them and don’t read as many as I want too, or I’ll read 4 at once and it takes me forever to finish even one of them.
    One thing I have learned in my 38 years though, is that I don’t completely trust what anyone says in books, too many things can be altered, especially over time. We can speculate on a lot of things about the past but we don’t know for sure. What if the ancient Egyptians never worshiped cats? What if they were like us and really liked them and put them in pictures? But someone came up with idea that they worshiped them and it became fact even though it ‘may not be’.
    Maybe we’re not supposed to know too much about the past because we need to focus on the present? Maybe that’s our big problem? instead of changing things to how they need to be in the present moment, we continue to do things exactly the way they did it decades ago, just because it’s tradition. Change is hard but it is inevitable, it has to happen.
    Just my thoughts 🙂 Your books sound really interesting.

    Here are my thoughts on your questions, 1. poverty was created the moment men decided to put themselves on a “throne” supported on the backs of their fellow human beings.

    2. I think agriculture became big when people saw they could make more money at it. I think they were more environmentally friendly because there was no alternative. My personal feelings are that agriculture is doomed to fail, the Creator made a diverse planet, a monoculture is completely against His blueprints. All you have to do is look at raw nature, there is no monoculture because it is too easy for bugs to decimate an entire crop, when their is a diversity, it keeps the bugs in check.
    3. There have always been kings and servants or land owners and paid workers (not everyone was a slave, some chose to stay with their “owners”). Even if you don’t believe in the Bible, it has a record of people working for others, Jacob worked 7 years for the land owners daughter, was tricked and then worked another 7 years for her. When those 14 years were done, he left.

    But like i said, those are just my thoughts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I pretty much agree with Mimic Nature. I think the idea of worked changed with industrialization. When people worked for themselves, the ethic was much better, it had to be. When people work for others, their hearts aren’t in it 100% and the bosses don’t care for the workers 100%. If everyone worked for themselves, quality would skyrocket. I do know that people think that society would collapse if everyone worked for themselves, and I also don’t see everyone quitting their jobs tomorrow. I’m just expressing the lack of quality of products that you buy at the huge markets that are taking over everything.
      Speaking of collapse, “Collapse” might be a book to check out. I haven’t read it yet, but I have it and plan to. It is clearly more about the collapse of societies, but I believe this can easily relate to the questions you are asking. It seems to relate in my mind anyway!

      Liked by 2 people

      • The book “Collapse” sounds really interesting! When I was in high school I would talk a lot about how the U.S was like any other baby empire and that it would crash…not the most pleasant thing to rant about, but when I was in high school I went on rants all damn day long! Thanks for the book idea 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • First I gotta say. Thank you sooo damn much for commenting your heart out on this post, Mimic Nature. It really warms my heart that you feel so compelled to write, that what I am saying resonates with you even a little bit. I am so grateful.

      Second, I’m a bum because I’ve taken….Oh a few weeks to write back. *Shame on me*

      Anyways… I’m going to raise some hell. Or at least point out some flaws in your logic when it comes to the reliability, credibility and the use of start:

      1. It is true. Just because an author writes something and publishes it doesn’t make everything they say accurate, morally correct or historically sensitive and aware. In fact, the great thing about modern books are that they do not exist in a vacuum. There is a running, never ending dialogue between authors, researchers, the public etc. on the validity, strength and function of a idea, theory or philosphy that a book is pushing. Thus, it makes book publishing one of the most community supported books of all times: if a book offers new, engaging, wholesome insights it is lauded, it is praised, it becomes a classic or like Jared Diamond’s book: It wins a freakin Pultizer Prize! Simply, yes, a book cannot be taken at face value- it should be critically examined, it should allow criticism, it should accept peer review, it should undergo editions which add or subtract or alter information based off of the feedback of society.

      2. No religious text undergoes the raw, unrelenting and “blind” judgement/review that a NYTimes bestseller undergoes. In fact, no commentary about the validity, historical sensitivity and accuracy or the credibility of authorship is accepted when it comes to religious texts. Simply, the Bible cannot be challenged. It does not reference other works. It does not bend with time and new knowledge. It exists within a vacuum. Its infallibility rests on the belief of divine authorship. I think it is important to uphold the same critical view that we have towards all books and literature towards religious texts which dictate how many view themselves and others outside of their religious network.

      3. Knowledge of the past, and I mean deep knowledge helps us to create a new future. When we fail to examine where we came from. We have no way of knowing where we are. I believe that learning about our origins from primate to human is important. Controversial stuff since you are religious, but necessary if we are to consider the truth of our world and our relationship to and with nature.

      4. Poverty is actually closely related to agriculture and food production. In order for a band of hunter-gathers to become “rich” they have to first become stationary peoples who rely on an abundance of food which was carefully sewn and reaped through agriculutral practices. Once a community has the power of excess food (hunting and gathering only provides enough for a few days–if that, while agriculture can provide for SEASONS) they can spend more time employing those who need to exist outside of the everyday tasks of life (food making etc), like inventors and seamstresses and school teachers! With agriculture, a smaller population can make the food while the larger population can do “jobs” that enable them to practice things outside of meeting their daily needs. Not all populations of human got agriculture for VARIOUS reasons mostly stemming from the availability of domesticate-able plants and living in areas where the geography and weather were not conducive for growing plants. Countries who developed agriculture went on to produce conquistadors or the Christopher Columbus’ of the day and those who couldn’t went on to be our modern day poor (or those who have been exploited by the greed of more tech saavy countries). It’s alot.

      5. Modern day agriculture happened by accident. In fact, when humans first “started it” they were doing very simple things: picking and eating the fruit of trees with the biggest berries and exerting their feces nearby (which would make the plant grow again with even bigger berries). They ate the very limited foods that they could eat (only a very SMALL amount of food can be domesticated into edible finds for humans) and slowly but surely began to tailor the edibles around them into human bred finds! Agriculture had nothing to do with money. In fact, early farmers were often MORE POOR and HUNGRY than hunter gathers…. I will elaborate in another post! But that is a taste.

      6. Ugh. I agree and disagree with your idea of humanities indebtedness to each other. It is true. When we lived in hunter-gatherer tribes if one person say needed a tomato plant, a kin or next-of-kin would provide it to the one without, with the understanding that they would receive it back eventually. They lived in a small gift-based society. Society has blown up! It is too big to personally give and receive items anymore, money regulates that…(more on that later). So yes, humans have always worked out ways to meet the needs of those within their community. I disagree because a lot of the indebtness is unjust. For instance, property tax. When did the earth grow a price tag on its rivers, sky, valleys and seas? At what point did someone make the conscious decision to become the FIRST owner of the land? That first owner creates debt upon every human for just needing a place to LIVE. So I disagree, property taxes and the idea that people can buy and own land is unjust and a true creation.

      This was long, but I wanted to address your comments! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for replying! I value your opinion 🙂 You are right, we should hold the same scrutiny for the Bible as we do every other book. I would like to point out that I don’t consider myself religious but spiritual. If the concepts in the Bible hold true to my own life experience then I will believe them, but for the most part I have a problem with a lot of it, mostly that people don’t understand it correctly. But you may still see that as religious and that’s fine, we each define words a little differently.
        You are right, creating property tax, plus, do you know I have to pay for the drainage of rainwater off of my land?! How stupid, I didn’t make it rain, why do I have to pay for it to drain off? 😀


      • Of course, I love replying to the thoughtfulness of others. Naah….probably shouldn’t have called you christian or whatever. I understand spirituality, I want to harness it within myself!!

        -_- Paying for rain water?! Really?! That makes no damn sense! This is an ultimate smh moment.

        Thanks for being a valued reader and participant in our journey!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, I love reading what you and Seth post 🙂 Can’t wait for the next one!!


      • *gloats* A true fan 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Life before Columbus….well, um I think to build some of the great temples in Incan empire, Great Wall in China, etc…..required slaves. From neighbouring tribal groups, the conquered in wars…

    Same for the ruined temples in Greek and Roman cultures.

    So I imagine life hard, ruthless in a different way prior to Columbus.


    • Ugh. Gosh Jean, you are so right. A part of me really wants to “escape” into the idea that life was great pre-Columbus or pre-Pizarro, but in fact it wasn’t. Life was plagued with a lethal turbulence of the unruly and in many ways “not human friendly” natural world.

      I have GOT to get it out of my head that I will be slipping away into another sphere of the world where the common problems and traumas of being human will exist “out there”. I know that this trip alone is an escape…but what is “Wrong” with escaping I guess?!? Haha. Is it wrong for me to look forward to saying “farwell” to the monotony of my job (and possibly the feeling of being so lame, boring and unadventerous)? I won’t know until I go…

      So you are right. Life was just as “ruthless” as you say…but in a different way.


  3. Interesting questions. I saw this nerdy programme on measurements: how we measure everything (time, weight, lenght etc), the history behind it and the different systems. There they mentioned that some monks needed a clock, so that they could keep their prayer times. And then the clock started governing our lives when the factory owners also started using the clock.
    Here’s an interesting documentary on the financial system.


    • I love nerdy programs! Your comment on the origins of measurement points to an important truth of humanity: Everything we create was made to serve one original purpose, of which deviant/ulterior/secondary uses were able to evolve from.

      Wow. I did not know that some monks helped initiate the time keeping system we have today! Ugh. I wonder if clocks only govern the modern State’s life and if time keeping isn’t necessary for hunter-gather communities. I would assume so.

      I will check out that documentary! Thanks Cardinal Guzman 😀


      • I love nerdy programs too: I have a hard disk packed with documentaries on science, history & nature stuff. The one on measurements is a BBC documentary called “The Measure of All Things” and it’s extremely interesting!

        I agree that time wasn’t that important in hunter/gather communities. For them, seasons were more important: when to plant, when was the hunting season for this and that etc. Some Norwegian vikings that lived on the coast, used to go out to this island where the birds have nests. they went there in the spring when the youngsters were hatched and broke their wings. Then the bird parents fed their kids through the season and in the end of the season, the hunters returned and picked up big fat chickens that had been fed all summer.
        By today’s standards it was brutal, but the fact that it was a highly effective hunting technique is undebatable.


      • Um….how freakin’ creative were our Norwegian ancestors?!?! Yeah, terrible for the birds, but gosh goes to show that the fight for survival will never fade!

        Can you foresee a “sick” day looming in the future where I stay in and watch BBC documentary gems all day?

        Thanks for commenting, your comments add a freshness to our blog and also gives me insight that I didn’t have previously!


  4. OMG didn’t realize this video was 4 HOURS LONG!!!! gosh.


  5. Something I learned about when investigating earthships is that in some states (Colorado maybe) they have made rainwater collection illegal. Something to do with draining the aquafers that are supposed to provide water for all the people who live out in the desert where there is no water. Totally off subject, but you made me think of it.


  6. That reply was supposed to be along with Mimic Nature talking about paying for runoff. I don’t know how to use computers still.


  7. You should check out Aimee Cesaire’s “A Discourse on Colonialism.” It’s short (about 50 pages), on point, and poetic. (Cesaire subverted the French language with surrealism and poetry to reclaim it as his own territory rather than something handed to him via colonialism.) My lingering questions after that one are all about the relationship between racism/colonialism and sexism… To what degree was sexism already here? In what ways are the mechanics and manifestations of one different from the other?


    • Thanks for raising some pretty deep questions. When I have time to do more reading and reflection I will try to check out Cesaire’s work. Happy ruminations 😀


      • Let me know if you get around to it! And when I finally read one straw revolution (I have about 4 other books to get through, then that guy’s next…so maybe June or July?) I’ll hit you and Seth up for discussion.


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