A comment from our friend Larry a few days ago opened the doors to a train of thought … well, it was a train I was already on, but Larry’s comment bought me a longer ticket on that train. His comment was in response to my post titled Remember, about International Holocaust Remembrance Day and a warning that in many ways, we humans around the globe seem to be on a path to similar destruction …
“We are the only species on earth that doesn’t fit into the scheme of things.”
For the past several days, my mind had been going in a similar, yet vague direction. My thoughts were along the lines of how different humans are from any other species. Notice that I said ‘different’ … not better. Humans have shown themselves capable of many things … some beneficial, others destructive even to their own well-being.
No other species on this planet kills for pleasure, but rather they kill for food in order to survive or when they feel endangered. No other species that I’m aware of kills because they don’t like the colour of another’s fur. No other species is so enamoured by material gains, by luxuries and that man-made contrivance we call currency.
What really strikes me as ironic is that humans have immense capabilities … they build skyscrapers, have traveled into outer space, landed people on the moon, found cures for diseases, invented millions of electronics and gadgets to make our lives ‘easier’, and yet … they are never satisfied. One small example … take the automatic clothes washing machine & dryer. I well remember my grandmother using an old-fashioned ringer washer in her basement, risking the bones in her hand with every load. Then she put them in a basket, took them outside, and hung them on the clothesline in the backyard. This had to be done fairly early in the morning so the clothes could get dry by evening. Then, she retrieved the dry (assuming it didn’t rain) clothes, took them in the house, and ironed them, for this was before the day of permanent press, another invention by humans. Today, one simply tosses the clothes into the washer, then tosses them into the dryer, then folds them. A load today takes a maximum of 10 minutes labour time in total, whereas my grandmother used to spend hours to do only 2-3 loads of laundry. But are we any better off, really? Are we satisfied or grateful for the modern-day convenience? Nope. Just like the millionaire who can never get enough, we are not satisfied and now we want a machine that will fold the clothes, too.
Medical science has devised a vaccine to save millions of lives in this era of the pandemic, yet instead of being grateful and doing our small part … and it is a very small part to go get the jab … about 30% of the people in this nation say that this life-saving vaccine is a ‘violation of their rights, their freedom.’ Since when do any one of us have the ‘right’ to take other people’s lives??? Isn’t refusal to wear a mask and refusal to get vaccinated a type of murder? And this is the human species, the species that considers itself ‘superior’ to all others. Humans actually believe that they were put on this earth to ‘rule’ over all other species, when in fact, humans evolved from one of those ‘other species’ and the planet was doing just fine without them.
Humans are obsessed with human-made contrivances. I’m not talking now about such things as airplanes, cars, and washing machines, but intangibles – time, distance, money, etc. Humans seem to feel a need to constantly measure everything. Other species eat when they are hungry, sleep when they need to, and see no need to quantify it all. Time … how many times in a 24-hour period do you check the time? I am as guilty as any, checking the time periodically throughout the day, even though most days I have nowhere to be, nothing of importance to do. Time has no meaning to other species, only to humans. The calendar … in truth, there is no such thing as January or October … there is earth’s rotation that marks what we measure as a day, and earth revolving around the sun, that marks our term for a year. But why? Is it really necessary? Dark will replace light, cold will replace warm, whether we have a calendar to measure it or not. It has always been so, even before humans evolved.
And money … money is not real. Some would say that money is backed up by gold, but of what worth, really, is gold? Can you eat it? Will it keep you warm on a cold winter’s night? Money is only as valuable as humans are convinced it is, but it’s an illusion. The day will come when humans find out that all the money in the world will have no value and will buy them nothing. The day will come when we will trade our labour for food and burn those hundred-dollar bills for warmth.
Humans, in all their arrogance, have appointed themselves keepers of the earth and all lifeforms residing on earth, and yet … humans are not taking care of the earth and are sentencing all species, including themselves, to extinction. How? By their love of gadgets … planes, buses, automobiles, heat sources that have long required the burning of fossil fuels … all of these things have contributed to the destruction of the environment. We are all guilty … we all throw away too much food, use more electricity than is absolutely essential, drive our cars for short trips when we could just as easily walk (a healthier option anyway), and extra trips that would be unnecessary if we only planned ahead a bit better. We unwittingly put our happiness at the top of the pyramid and everything else takes a backseat.
We could be so much better than we are. We have the knowledge to solve the problems of the world, if only we would put the greater good ahead of our own desires. If we stopped worrying about our individual ‘rights’ and started thinking about the rights of future generations to have breathable air, potable water, and edible food. But, humans are short-sighted and I don’t see it as likely that people and nations will put aside their own desires, their fear of other, their bigotry and hatred, in order to preserve the planet for their heirs. We can put men on the moon, yet we cannot learn to be kind.