Remember not long ago, I told you that Popeye’s had come out with a chicken sandwich that was said to be the equal of Chick-Fil-A’s? I was happy to hear this, for I refuse to set foot in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant because of their overt bigotry, but I did like their chicken sandwiches long ago. Well, before the girls and I got around to trying Popeye’s new sandwich, it was announced that they were sold out and would have more in the near future, so I rather forgot about it. Apparently, though, the Popeye’s sandwich is … um … I don’t even know what word to use … controversial? Worth risking life and limb for? Just in the past week …
On Monday, the headlines read “Man Is Fatally Stabbed Over Popeyes Chicken Sandwich”, and on Wednesday it was “Driver Damages Own Car Trying To Jump Popeye’s Drive-Thru Line”. This post is not about those two events specifically, and I won’t waste my time or yours going into detail. But rather, this post is about the thought that occurred to me upon seeing these two stories: I wonder how the human species has managed to survive this long?
Ever since humans evolved from their simian cousins, it seems that they have been trying to kill one another, sometimes with cause, but more often for no good reason. The more laws we make in our effort to establish a ‘civil society’, the more violent we become. The more we enhance our education systems, the more ignorant we become. The more we claim to care about others, the less we seem to care.
Part of the problem, of course, is that we don’t know when to stop reproducing. The population on earth today is roughly 7.7 billion people, which is more than double the number of people on earth in 1972, just 47 years ago. The amount of land on the planet, however, remains roughly the same, although with rising sea levels it is on the downturn. The land on the planet is roughly 196.9 million square miles, which translates to .03 square miles per person. But, of course, some of that is taken up by forests that are critical for the survival of life on earth. The bottom line is that we cannot continue to double the population on the planet every 50 years and survive! Maybe China’s ‘one-child’ rule wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
But, there is more to the problem than overpopulation. I think that technology has a role in the way people treat each other these days, as well. Mind you, I’m not putting down man-made technology in general … there have been many amazing inventions, as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting in my comfy chair, and within minutes I have discovered the amount of land and the number of people on planet earth without moving more than my fingertips. Then with a few more clicks of the fingertips, I was able to make the calculations I needed. Now, I am writing words, again with my fingertips, and in a couple of short hours, people across the globe will be reading my words. Back in 1972, nobody would have believed it possible.
However, in some ways I think that technology has made our lives too easy. If the Internet died tomorrow, how many high school kids would know how to go to the library and look up the information I just found at my fingertips? I’m betting very few. And, technology has put distance between us – not physical distance, but we are emotionally disconnected from others as we text messages on our cell phones, play video games, watch movies, or troll the ‘net. We have become emotionally isolated, and when we do have the occasion to interact with others, we have little tolerance.
We are easily frustrated by the actions of others. Going back to the chicken sandwich example … a man was rude and cut in line in front of another, and the other was so frustrated that he pulled out his knife and stabbed the rude man to death. Is this what we call ‘civilization’? All species will kill if they feel their lives or the lives of their pack are threatened, but humans are the only species I know that will kill a person because of the colour of his skin, or where his ancestors came from, or because he was in a hurry to buy a sandwich.
At the same time as we are losing more and more of our humanity, we are also failing miserably to take care of the Earth on which our lives, in fact the lives of every living thing, depend. The human species seems, as it becomes less tolerant toward one another, to either have a death wish or to believe that they are invincible – I’m not sure which it is.
There are those that will say “Well, species come and go, it’s the natural progression of life”. Not true. This extinction will be near-total, and it differs from the extinction of other species in the past because this one was completely, entirely avoidable. Our fate was in our hands all along, yet we chose to take the path of least resistance, the path that gave us the greatest pleasure, but at the highest cost. It is the arrogance of mankind that has led us to the brink of extinction, and as I ponder it, the only real surprise is that humans have survived this long.