Thoughts on Evolution

Emile Cronjé
4 min readMar 6, 2019


Deeper than any trauma that has been inflicted on me, or us, in this, or any, lifetime is the deep-seated evolutionary trauma of our escape from the jungle. At our core, all of us share the same trauma, the deepest and most traumatic experience that we all had to go through.


The transformation of our environment. Depending on where you emerged and the circumstances you emerged into, if you are reading this someone cared enough to keep you alive. There was hopefully warmth, some kind of hearth.

I like to imagine what it felt like long ago. Maybe even the stone age. Every day your survival was threatened. Every night when tribe members returned to the hearth, the cave, the shelter, we started counting, maybe. One, two, three, thirteen.

Some days someone would not return. Or someone would fall ill.

How did we say goodbye? Why did we paint shifting animals on cave walls? We knew them intimately, shared a world with them.

Our existence was so similar to theirs. Facing death every day and returning safely home every day.

The fear of the jungle.

First we made friends. Then we became too many.

Some preferred open plains. They started growing food. Fewer and fewer of them ventured into the jungle. They became comfortable. Tame. Unaware without the daily focus required when surviving in the wild.

That doesn’t mean that the fear disappears. The fear takes a different form. Worry. Anxiety. Planning crops, counting riches. A whole other game, a game of order with levels and a possibility of never-ending complexity only… it is still the same patterns repeating over and over ad infinitum.

Those that stayed in the jungle look at the simplicity of the game and are baffled. Where is the growth? Where is the bloom? Where is the chaos of the storm? It’s a flat game, a board game, a made-up game. Yet the plain-dwellers believe it to be real. And in their interactions, their wars and destruction and oppression, they create the same fear that they tried to escape from in the jungle. They become their own enemy, for development requires it for some reason.

Over time, the plain-dwellers became more powerful because of the believe-ability of the game they invented. They have started to destroy the jungle. They are too ignorant to know what it is they are destroying, and the jungle-dwellers weep.

We should all weep.

The jungle dwellers — the ancient ones — they’re educating the plain — dwellers as much as they can.

It’s about the land. It’s about the land. It’s about the land.

The land and the water and the earth and the light and the sky and the storm and the night and the day.

And the plain dwellers are saying: no! It’s about the money and the numbers and the emissions and the spacecraft and technology and AI and science.

And the jungle dwellers are saying: no! It’s about the ecology and the interconnectedness and the stories and the growing and the living and the dying and the peace and love and freedom that is possible.

And I am sitting watching the conversation happening like a tennis match, all made up inside my head by my own evolution of mind-body-soul-spirit. This vessel that is sometimes filled with something of someone else’s making, something that feels alien and strange and not born of this physical evolution but poured into me from outside.

And I try to understand how it is all of it. The change and the growth, the technology and the understanding of human connection, the symbols in the land and the symbols on the screen, the desperation and the loneliness, the indulgence and enjoyment, but mostly the ever-enduring confusion.

Actively evolving, but I have lost the trust in my own navigation system to direct what I turn into. Because all I manage to do is turn myself into the things I hate.

Maybe that is how you learn compassion. We are also one, me and the thing I hate. The crazed creature, pityful, helpless, grotesque. When I don’t identify with it too much, when I can look at it with a kind of detached curiosity and lean in to ask it: what are you?

I am your fear, embodied. I am the other, knocking on your door. I am here to show you that when you become what you fear, you become fearless.

And that is the most dangerous moment, for then you turn into that which you struggle to dismantle. We are all powerful in this world, if we are conscious of our freedom to choose. To choose how we view ourselves. To choose how we view the world.

I am throwing the lies told by the illusion away, one by one. It’s a tough job, dismantling this cage I find myself in, but it is the most crucial work of all. For if I do not liberate myself, no-one else will. And as long as I am not liberated, I am a pawn, to be pushed around by the power structures that exist all around. In all our minds.

The fear of birth. The fear of death. The fear of beginnings and endings. Evolution and conscious transformation. Bring on those cycles, I’m enjoying the ride.



Emile Cronjé

Art. Agency. Activism. South Africa