November 5, 2009

The Amazing Human Being

You wish you were this awesome.

People really are amazing creatures. We're so interesting because we're so different from other living beings and because we have the ability to consider ourselves as puzzle pieces in our world (which, as far as we're aware, we don't share with other species).

We walk upright all the time, balancing on two proportionately tall legs. We are the only species to be perfectly vertical and it amazes me we don't eat shit more often. (Ever watch a baby learn to walk? You freak out if his chubby legs start to move too fast because you know a faceplant into the floor is seconds away.) We can even run pretty quickly on our two legs, holding objects in our hands, and usually we catch ourselves so we don't fall to the ground every time we trip.

We have pets. The descendants of wolves and lions walk through our living rooms, beg at the kitchen table, cuddle in our beds, play with our kids and protect our territories. I remember sitting at the kitchen table one day and our big dog walked by, tongue lolling and scoping the room for something interesting. She passed the cat who was unworried and asleep on the couch and didn't even acknowledge the quinea pig in his cage on the floor. I was surprised by my amazement that we have these creatures so involved in our lives, creatures who would never otherwise have such interactions.

We value individual lives. Elephants also value individual lives (they will recognize a relative or friend after decades apart and bury the dead of not just their own family members, but unrelated elephants and sometimes other species), but only people will mourn the loss of an individual so much that their lives simply stop. Some women are so upset by the loss of a fetus or child that they cannot bring themselves to get pregnant again and their relationships are destroyed. Some people are so moved by the loss (or perceived loss) of an individual that they put their own lives at risk by actively seeking revenge.

We value our species above all other species. We even value our subspecies above all other subspecies. (OK, I know most of us would like to think we're not racist and we value everyone the same, but I bet most people at least think their respective country is the best.) Our population has gone from 1 to almost 7 billion in just 200 years. If any other species had gone through this significant of a population increase we'd have culled them. But we believe our safety and comfort is more important than an entire species existence, simply because we're human.

We value worthless rocks. Only when a functional economy exists is money worth anything. Should an apocalypse or alien invasion or zombies come and wipe out all but a few thousand humans, those few thousand humans may very well be doomed to become extinct if they don't know anything about staying safe, finding edible food and clean drinking water, or raising the next generation without modern conveniences. What good is money and gold if you're alone and can't tell the difference between poisonous plants and edible ones?

People consistently amaze me the more I watch them and the more I learn about the other species we share this rock with. If you, dear reader, have an interesting or amazing observation about our unique species please share so I can learn and be amazed even more.

1 comment:

  1. I would be one of the thousand to make it to the end of the zombie apocalypse