Respect thine elders:
If anybody thinks the “Ten Commandments” are a list of virtues that distinguish Judeo-Christio-Muslim people from the rest of the world, this should be a game changer.  The “commandment” of “Honor thy mother and thy father,” were it a divine revelation of the Will of God would mean that we did, indeed, respect our elders.  Some of us do, but compared with the Japanese, we are impudent brats indeed.  What it really means, of course, is “You are going to make your parents really proud of you.”  It’s a promise of a blessing, not a curse.  But we’ve been there before.

Elders are indeed widely respected the world over.  And there are those who wonder why.  (For me it kind of goes like: well they deserve it.  Besides they invested an enormous amount in me for which they expected – and got – zilch in return save my undying esteem and gratitude.)  That logic evidently does not satisfy everybody, so the issue is studied.  (Rachel Caspari The Evolution of Grandparents SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN  vol. 305 no. 2 August 2011 page 45)

Studies suggest that in Western Europe the appearance of sophisticated tools in the later Old Stone Age corresponded with an increase in the number of older people.  This happened about 30,000 years ago.  It is believed that this was a two way street.  A more sophisticated technology let people live longer while at the same time the greater number of  older people added to the size of the population, contributed to the general productivity of the population and carried the wisdom of the past.

Of course among the sophisticated objects that turned up were the figurines of women, such figurines being generally recognized as fertility symbols. 

That means that fertility had already been recognized as a crucial issue by our remote ancestors of the time.  And of course the researchers do not mention the one thing that affects fertility more than all others combined: you have to marry the right kin.  And the older people know who your cousins are. 

Indeed, in an endearing moment, the author brings up this issue and later returns to it, although the known relationship between kinship and fertility does not come up for discussion. 

There have been 41,098 visitors so far. 
Home page