Nellie McClung, "Speaking of Women," Maclean’s
The Cave Dweller, long ago, realizing that the food
supply was limited and hard to obtain, was disposed to look
upon every other man as a possible rival; and considered it
good policy to kill at sight in order that the crowd around
the Neolithic lunch counter might be lessened. The reasoning
was economically sound, too. If the divisor is lessened, the
quotient is correspondingly increased!
Life was simple then. Every man was his own lawyer,
butcher, barber, drycleaner; he settled his own quarrels,
without lawyers' fees or 'notes'; there were no apartment
houses, tax-notices, rural mail delivery, water rates,
subscription lists, or any other complication.
But it was not long before men began to plan greater
tasks than could be accomplished by individual effort, and
the idea slowly grew that the other man might be a real help
at times and perhaps it was a mistake always to kill him.
Co-operation began when one man chased the bear out of the
cave and another man killed him when he ran past the gap!
Since then the idea of co-operation has steadily grown.
Now we are so utterly dependent upon the other man—or
woman—that we cannot live a day without them. But the
primitive instincts die hard! Men are still haunted by the
ghost of that old fear that there may not be enough of some
things to go around if too many people have the same chance
of obtaining a share. They join in the thanksgiving of the
"Six potatoes among the four of us;
Thank the Lord there ain't any more of us.