Mankind has evolved into the greatest being because of their ability to adapt to new environments. Even in early civilizations, nomads had to constantly move and adjust to unknown lands in the hunt for food. The ability to adapt to any situation can better your chance at survival, even when it seems impossible to live. During some of the world’s tragedies, such as the Great Depression, the ones who succeeded tended to be people that were not afraid of change. While the chances of living may seem slim, people with determination will find a way to survive. Survival depends on a person’s ability to quickly evolve and adapt to their surroundings.The ability to adapt to harsh situations can better the chance of survival. This is in McCormick’s novel Sold when thirteen-year-old Lakshmi was taken to Nepal and became a slave.
Although she was scared, Lakshmi learned the rules of the Happiness House where she was trapped and did the calculations so she could pay off her debt and go back home. If Lakshmi gave up like other girls, she probably would have committed suicide or risked the chance of death by running away. Also, Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night set during the Holocaust shows how adaptation is crucial during desperate times. While prisoners were forcibly taken to other concentration camps, fights for food emerged and families turned their backs on each other. When they reached Buchenwald, only “twelve… [were] left” (121) who resisted death and tried to adapt. During the podcast “Ghosts of Football Past”, it mentions how the Carlisle Indian School faced discrimination from other teams when football was just beginning. Even when the school scored a touchdown during a game, it was called back from a Yale coach since they were against Native Americans. Instead of giving up and letting their football team die out, they adapted to the situation by recruiting Pop Warner, who devised tricks so the team would succeed. In all of these situations, the victims could have decided to give up since their situation seemed daunting. However, they handled the challenges and survived terrible times.
During a tough situation, people who quickly adapt usually find a motive for survival. When Wiesel was entering the concentration camps in Night, he contemplated killing himself so he would not go through a slow death. However, when he was about to jump onto the barbed wire, Elie “squeezed [his] father’s hand” (Wiesel 52) and realized he could not leave his father alone. His dad became his motive for survival since Wiesel did not want him to lose his only son. Wiesel survived the Holocaust but would have died if his father was not there to prevent him from committing suicide. Also, Lakshmi and Monica in the novel Sold showed motivation to survive throughout the book when they were slaves. Lakshmi’s determination came from wanting to provide money to her mother, who was poor in India. With her in mind, Lakshmi kept calculations of how much she was paid, so she could pay off the debt and return home. Monica, a woman who lived with Lakshmi, had a daughter at home that she could not see. She wanted to survive so her daughter “can thank… and honor” (McCormick 181) her when she returned. Even though the characters had different reasons to survive, their motives were the reasons they could persevere and adapt to their unfortunate circumstances.
Without being able to evolve, different groups would become extinct from extermination. When Pratt created the Carlisle Indian school in 1879, his plan dealt with “civilizing the Indian children” (Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center) so they would fit into modern culture. This way, Native Americans would not go extinct by fitting in by having jobs and a proper education. While Captain Pratt may have not gone about this the right way by completely stripping the student’s culture away, the school helped save the Native American tribes from being exterminated due to their lack of a proper education. Another instance of the attempt to exterminate an ethnic group was the Holocaust, which was the setting for Night. During this time, the Germans were trying to eradicate the Jews. A large portion of them did not survive since they were either dying of starvation or murdered by different brutal methods.
However, people like Elie Wiesel were able to survive by trying to adapt, and still have hope in humanity. Some may claim that not all people who flourish in times of crisis adapt to their situation. When Wiesel was in the concentration camps, he claims that he does not “know how [he] survived… [and] did nothing to save [himself] (5). He was simply a young boy, consumed by fear and seemed to survive based on pure luck. Although Wiesel believes that he was not different than the others, he had the motive to live because of his father, and therefore naturally tried to survive by being unnoticed. He stayed quiet in the crowd and that is the main reason why he lived. People naturally adapt in times of crisis and try to save themselves. Evolving and adapting to situations occurring around someone is crucial to survival. If groups do not adjust to issues around them, they risk becoming extinct, like the attempted extermination of the Jewish people and the Native Americans. Also, the ones that do succeed in desperate times usually find their own motivation for survival, like how Elie Wiesel did not kill himself after thinking about how painful it would be for his father to face the concentration camp alone. The chances of survival increase when people can adapt to what is around them, such as Lakshmi trying to adjust to a terrible situation and get out of it as quickly as possible. Humans have been evolving since they have been created, and need to do so in order to flourish in times of crisis.
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