HEALTHY BITE | Humankind: A Hopeful History

When I saw Rutger Bergman's newest book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, I just had to read it. And what a great read it is. What's the connection between this book and the Polyvagal Theory? Tune in to find out.

A Hopeful History

I wanted to share with you two books, one that I have read some time ago, but one that I recently finished and felt so inspired about. I wanted to share. I had to share it with you.

They’re both by the same author, a historian, a Dutch historian called Rutger Bregman, and he wrote a book a few years back called Utopia for Realists and How We Can Get There. It was all about the universal basic wage and how all discussion about whether we could afford to have a universal basic income for everybody, that means everybody would be on something like 12000 dollars a year. Even if you were a multi-millionaire, you would get it. 

As well as a person that was on the very lowest of low income or a pensioner. Everybody would get 12000 dollars a year. The millionaire would no doubt pay that back in their tax, but everybody would get it. No questions asked, no obligations set.

Could society afford such an initiative? 

What they found was that not only could the society afford it, but it was actually revenue neutral. The benefits, the flow-on benefits from relieving people of the stress of poverty, improve their health, improve their education, improved every measure of social and societal well-being, individual and social well-being. So the universal basic income was a terrific book, Utopia for Real Estate.

When I saw his newest book, Humankind: A Hopeful History, I just had to read it, and what a great read it is. I totally recommend it to you. 

We hear so much about the survival of the fittest and I’ve mentioned this before, I’ve never really thought of evolution as a political construct. The survival of the fittest, when you think about it, it fits very well into our Western Neo-liberal Capitalist model, survival of the fittest but when we look at history, we kind of realize that maybe that isn’t the case.

For example, Neanderthals were bigger than us and they had bigger brains than us so you would think that if it was survival of the fittest, Neanderthals should have won that battle. 

What Rutger Bregman shows in several of these chapters is there was actually a survival of the friendliest. The fact that we as humans are a friendly, collaborative, and extremely communicative species is the secret to our success. It’s the friendliness, that collaboration which has won out, evolutionarily speaking, and continues to win out today on many levels. Look, it’s a great book. It’s a great read. He talks about various things. 

Lord of the Flies book

You may know the story of a group of English schoolboys that are shipwrecked and the hierarchical way in which they organize themselves in the way they treat the weaker members of their group. 

In fact, you know, in a real-life instance of that occurring in Polynesia, which went on for a considerably longer period of time than the Lord of the Flies, I think it went on for 15 or 18-month period, the boys were so collaborative and so supportive and that was how they survived. So the real story was very different.

Similarly, he touches on the Stanford Student Prisoners trial, where Stanford University divided its research group into prisoners and guards. The story goes that within a very short period of time, the guards became really brutal with the prisoners and that is just an example of how terrible human beings are. 

The truth is something quite different because that has been shown to be a sham, that study, and yet is still repeated time and time again in many psychology courses. 

The book is just an absolute joy to read. We should be referred to as Homo Puppies or the Homo Friendly because that is what has given us the strength and the ability to succeed.

What I’m also doing as a companion to that book has started to explore The Polyvagal Theory written by Dr. Stephen Porges, which is an absolute, fabulous read. 

You might think, what’s the connection between Humankind: A Joyful History (sic) [Correction: Humankind: A Hopeful History] and Polyvagal Theory? It’s interesting because Rutger Bregman gives a social and historical perspective to our success as a species and Stephen Porges actually gives us a neurological explanation for that.


Our ability to look at other human beings from birth and to be able to judge their reaction and respond to it by mirroring and understanding and being the nuanced response of our neurology to our fellow human beings and the impact that it has on our development. 

So that’s a book that I’m just diving into. I wanted to share those two books in particular — Utopia for Realists and Humankind: A Joyful History (sic) [Correction: Humankind: A Hopeful History], both by Rutger Bregman. I’d recommend that as a strong read. 


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