Thursday, March 11, 2010

my carer career goes bung, and we get out of africa

Skhul skull - from Es Skhul cave in Israel

For the time being, foster care is over. The boy who's been in my care since late October last year, John, has effectively removed himself from that care by repeatedly stealing from me and absconding. In the business, it's called 'sabotaging the placement'.

His last act – unless he has another in the offing – has been to steal my laptop. Being careless as usual, I haven't backed up the creative work I kept on the laptop, including all the essays, complete and incomplete, making up my 'book in progress', The Faith Hope. So I now feel a bit deflated, understandably enough. Yet at the same time I feel energised now that I have those foster caring responsibilities lifted from me. Maybe I can renew my focus.

I'm tempted to write of the dramatic events of the past few days, though I'm aware of confidentiality issues with children 'under the guardianship of the minister', as they term it. It's funny that just last Friday I fronted up for some training at the Anglicare Offices. The lecture/workshop was about kids who'd suffered trauma. Whether John is in this category is unknown. Foster carers don't always get told a lot about the kids put into their care. The lecturer said that these were the most difficult kids, that they were often hard to like. I'll drink to that.

Instead, though, I want to write about what I'm reading, viewing, learning and flimsily speculating upon. One of the themes has been human origins. Recently there have been programs on the Neanderthals and their place in the human story, there have been articles on the origins of writing, on the near extinction of our species during the last ice age, and on the place of Ardipithecus ramidus in the tale of our ancestors. Lots to explore.

In tonight's program, part one of Human Journey, I learned of the uncovering of human remains in Israel from about 160,000 years ago, I think. There were signs that the bodies were carefully buried, and hints of a belief in the afterlife. The program suggested though, that these humans, having managed to make their way out of Africa with the help of a period of climatic cooling, and a greening of the North African and Arabian-Levantine deserts, subsequently died out when the climate heated up again. Though I'm no expert, I'm guessing that the program is simplifying matters a little.

The thesis is that, though there may have been the odd attempt, as above, of people who thrived for a while and then failed, our ancestors are in fact derived from a small group who managed the crossing of the Red Sea about 70,000 years ago, when the climate was propitious and the waters had receded to such a degree that the distance to the Arabian peninsula was reduced to a mere 11 kilometres.

I'm sceptical about this. It seems to be based on a lack of evidence [for other, successful crossings] rather than anything positive. It's just too early to be sure. Or is it?

Here's another interesting account of the early human journey.

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