Darla Hogan (darlahoganauthor)
Darla Hogan
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Anthony Simeone
I'd heard recently that we didn't actually kill off or "out-mate" the neanderthals. More accurately, we mated WITH them, so we modern humans are actually both the more-modern cro-magnon and neanderthal combined!

If I can go out on a limb and extend that "fact" into a metaphor, I'd like to suggest (based on my own observations of the world via the idiot box and the internet teet) that human beings will always struggle at the cusp of the animal and the divine. We will never be rid of the paradox of our beatitude and our primal drives. 

This never ending struggle between our better and baser natures is the yin and the yang that drives us forward through time. It is the engine that moves us forward, for better or worse. Without either side of this dichotomy, the great wheel of our evolution would grind to a halt.

We must manage as best we can. Indeed, it is all we have ever done. Your succinct and poignant piece written here is a manifestation of the beatific side of us, an example of Lincoln's "better angels." Those who follow the Trumps, the Hitlers, and the other demagogues throughout history are the ones that have given in to the animal part of us, the fear and the lure of fight-or-flight that clouds our higher reason. They've been duped by the siren call of certainty, which is for the most part an illusion. 

The primate in us wants certainty, safety, a predictable future...something we can never have. The only certainty is certainty in one's own ability to overcome. But too many of us are not taught the means to overcome. We're not given the tools to overcome our basic instincts. And it's ever the duty of the thinkers and doers on the side of rationality and creativity that must protest and question and bring light to the darkness, as you've done here. So, thank you for taking up arms in the eternal struggle!
Marty Conley
Hi Darla,

     Your request just popped up in my email — sorry if I'm too late to be helpful. I like the setting and premise of your first three chapters — it looks like a good read! Unlike most writers (I guess), I enjoy the editing and revision process — this is where good writing happens. Being as someone has already commented on the flow and organization of your first three chapters, I thought I'd offer some specific suggestions on the first paragraph...

Your first paragraph includes several very good elements — especially the detail about Gregg's hands, which suggests his isolation, both physically — living alone on a farm — and emotionally — without the companionship of a woman. This is a great metaphor.

Tips: Adjectives can be useful to describe details, but they should be relevant and used only when needed — too many and they clutter-up one's writing.  The verb is the most important word in a sentence — build your sentences around the main verb. I'm an English teacher so it's my job to focus on these things. These are just suggestions meant to be helpful — thank you for sharing your writing!

I did play with the first paragraph myself as a way to illustrate my suggestions...

Gregg patted his dog with an earth-stained hand more accustomed to holding down sheep than fondling a woman’s breast. He guided his truck through a field cratered with dips and mounds that rocked the cab. Reaching the northernmost edge of his property, he eased the Rover to a stop. The north air blasted the windscreen with icy pellets that caused Gregg to go cold inside. He cursed under his breath and made the sign of the cross. The ewe that had gone missing two days earlier was tangled up in the tension wire fence that he'd installed last month. She was a bloody mess. "Come on Lass, let’s see if there be any chance of saving her.” 

Rivenrod X
Your anguish is almost tangible.

I too think that our survival as a species is in grave jeopardy.  Whether or not we deserve to survive is another matter entirely. Even if it's not too late for this beleaguered planet to save us, it will become increasingly difficult so long as human beings continue to drain its resources at current levels.

However, we must NOT look for ways to sustain our way of life because to do so will only delay the inevitable.  In fact, according to some experts, because of our nature and predilection for chaos and destructiveness, to do so may even accelerate our decline and demise.  Regardless, what we MUST do is examine every aspect of our existence in the context of working in harmony, not just with the natural world, but between ourselves, the different races of the world.  

We must know and understand, as Global Citizens, exactly who we are, how we must work and achieve together for the future.  We must examine and change every single aspect of human interaction, all philosophical and practical  ideologies concerning the exclusively human matters of: life, death, money, work, vocation, care, the young, the old, philosophy, art, ownership, governance, conflict, sustainability, boundaries, nationhood .  . .

Globally we are drowning in systems and principals which do not work, at least not for everyone: Capitalism has failed spectacularly.  Democracy, whilst we have given it our best shot, it too is failing millions, billions across the planet.  The Nuclear Balance has been shown to be worthless, at best a senseless diversion in circumventing conflict.  And, for reasons which are all too obvious, I am very much afraid that none of these concerns can be entrusted to politicians to resolve. 

Where do we go from here?  I don't know at the moment but one thing is resoundingly clear to me; It's about time the human Race grew up!