Have We Forgotten?

In my thirty-some odd years being among the human race, I have often felt and participated as an outside observer. I have been trying to make sense of the human condition. Most of my views have been tainted by the fact that I am an American, living a lower middle class existence, but I think that most humans I have met, and definitely the media has forgotten, why we humans suffer so much. I have heard many theories from the various religions, and they all seem to skirt the point that seems to obvious to me:

We are animals

I don't mean that as "we are horrible self-serving anarchistic carnivores" (although that applies to a lot of people), I mean that literally we have forgotten that we are organisms that are bound by the same laws all life forms must abide by. I blame this mostly on Western Religions, who have done their best to distance us from our roots as part of the ecosystem. We eat, grow, and reproduce as the laws of science state makes us an organism:

Interestingly, according to veteran fire-fighters, these rules also apply to fire, which is not defined an organism by biologists, so we are beginning to see where a lot of this classification begins to disintegrate. But for right now, we're going to assume that we are a life form. Once you realize that, things really begin to make sense. Everything we do, from the sublime to the exaggerated, every occupation or series of thought, is related to a basic survival instinct, which is fear and greed.

Now wait just a darn minute here...!

This view is more radical to most than I would have originally thought. In fact, some people's reactions to these kinds of comments simply prove my theories on human animal existence. I'm not saying this is bad, mind you, just who we are. Or at least, the truth as I have seen it. People who forget they are really just another animal tend to be very unhappy, repressed, and after a while, they go kind of crazy. Those that have accepted, even in part, that they are an animal with animal wants and needs, tend to be a lot happier. But why do I say fear and greed are the primary motivators? Because fear is the best survival tool an organism has, and greed is the only thing that counter-acts it. To "simpler" life forms (a human term), like a paramecium, fear is little more than a reaction to something negative, light bright light. Only his greed for food keeps him moving and an active hunter. To more "advanced" life forms (a term I find difficult, because it implies one has to take a test to qualify for "advanced" status), fear is part of a "memory" function, and generally applies to anything new. Just watch a deer, or even a huge bear, encountering something new. They sniff, approach cautiously, test, etc... before moving further with their goal. We do the same thing! Greed is the desire to survive with getting what you consider essential. Greed rewards our ability to overcome fear with reward.

But we're better than animals, look what we've invented!

War. The wheel. Aresol deodorant. Ok, what's all this mean? This must make us different from animals, right? Sorry, it just makes us different animals. We handle things by manipulating them to our needs, even in theory! People are making all kinds of ways to say we are different from animals without addressing that we are still animals with different skills. I mean, look at the electric eel. He uses electricity to stun fish so he can eat them. Maybe he also thinks he has a highly developed sense of the world, and is the superior species just because of that. We'd be insulted! Douglas Adams one remarked:

"... man had always assumed he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than humans -- for precisely the same reasons." -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

So it's all relative, isn't it? But a lot of people will come up and offer why we are better than animals because of what sets us apart from them proves it. Think again:

No more than an advanced territorial construct, set by laws so it would work properly. We now have task-sharing much like ants and termites, caste much like most pack animals, and territory much like any living thing. Like most pack territories, it falls apart during stress, and has wars with neighboring packs. We are still "fighting for survival" for better hunting grounds, so to speak, but our need is also for control of resources, like food, business, and oil.
The slap of a beaver's tail, the start of a stampede, the warning cry of a blue jay all all forms of language. Writing is just another from of this group-survival technique. Many say we are the only animals capable of abstract thought, but how do we know, anyway? Chimps taught sign language are also capable of abstract thought, it seems.
Art, Literature, Culture
Writing, sculpture, art, and other creative endeavours are simply forms of territorial markings as we "express" who we are much like a tiger expresses his or her territory by scratches, scent, and other markings. Culture is a group process of this marking of territory, which leads back to the civilization illusion.
Other animals use tools, like chimps (twigs for display of dominance or poking termites out of mounds), elephants (branches for playing, or trees for scratching their backs), and seagulls (rocks for dropping clams on). It is interesting that we have so much technology, that we have technology to handle technology, and more technology to handle that technology...
Simply a tool to understand the world and make sure nothing bites us. Biology simply makes us less likely to be bitten by animals, either though domestication, entrapment, or separation, Chemistry and physics makes sure we can prevent nature from "biting" us. Law is to prevent us from biting each other.

Okay, what about God, you heretic?

Interesting question. Is there a God, or isn't there? That's a personal decision, but I think God is like abstract art: You see what you want to see, based on who you are. Even if "God" is "real" or not. Do animals recognize a God? Is God merely an abstract concept to explain the unexplainable, a tool to deal with our own rationalization over reality? What is reality?

Reality Explained!!!: Reality is nothing more than an organism's reaction to perceived stimuli.

I have seen some people rationalize anything, whether I accept it as "real" or not. To a paranoid man, everyone is out to get him. To some cats, the vacuum cleaner is to be feared, no matter if it ever hurt them or not. Some people's reality is fragile, and this is no more apparent when someone actually gets upset over an abstract thought or concept by another person. They regard it as a threat to their reality, their territory, and act aggressively like competing wolves. I only get upset when they jeopardize mine or my friend's physical safety, and if someone says, "You're ideas are weird, and I don't accept them," that's okay! You can think what you like, if it makes you happy, why should I stop you? My reality in my thoughts  are like the ocean, pretty secure and liquid, so if I see something convincing, I am not afraid to change, but I don't merely accept the next strongest voice near me.

So is God "real"? I say yes! God is like art, it is different things to different people, and if He (or She or They) helps you through your daily life and give you fulfillment and happiness, hurrah to you! If you think that a sentient and all-knowing manipulating God is not real, but find comfort in that fact, hurrah to you too! Do what makes you a happy and productive being, it's your right as an organism.

Is there nothing to live for?

Oh, certainly! Luckily, nature has given us tools to deal with our rationalization, or we'd be dead where we stood, trying to rationalize why the tiger hates you as it mauled your body.  We can create our own destinies, whether it be through religion or gut determination. You create your own purpose, and model your life to that. Just know your limits, and be prepared to take the consequences. If you decide you are going to classify yourself as better than animals, and decide you will no longer eat, grow, or reproduce, you can do that! You'll die, but hey, your kind of thought is sort of detrimental to the survival of the species anyway, so we know you can't pass it off to offspring. When I got out of school into the real world, it was a great breath of fresh air, because instead of being bound

That's why I can't understand people's fear of homosexuality. Whether it's genetic or by choice, still, that's their life, and it's certainly harmless! Their generation pretty much stops right there, and even if they are "spreading their lifestyle" (which is a stupid and ignorant statement) those people who "choose" it based on that alone shouldn't be in the gene pool, anyway, IMHO. Our future survival will depend heavily on intelligence and free thought if we are to face the next millenia, and the best step I think is to realize we are an animal, how we are unique to other animals, and how to use it to our advantage, happiness, and well being.

Intelligence and an open mind is necessary for our continued survival. Just like diversification works in nature, it works like this in our thoughts and beliefs. Times change, and if we can't change with it, we become obsolete.  Two hundred years ago, if you could not read or write, you could still get a fairly good job and have a decent lifestyle.  Nowadays, not reading is almost as bad as being blind.  You always hear the jokes about the older people not being able to program a VCR, and while I think this is more stereotype than reality, the parable has the same meaning:  live with the times or drown in it.  It may sound cruel, but there is simply no other choice.  Thirty years ago, free sex was pretty much harmless, now it could kill you.  Some people could not adapt with having sex carefully, and caught and died from AIDS or Herpes.

So what's the Final Word?

We are animals.  We are brothers and sisters to the great diverse groups of organisms that call the Planet Earth home. Once you believe that, and accepted it, you will be more at peace with your day-to-day lives.

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