I grew up watching Indian movies and rubbernecking at street fights in my hometown. Most often during the most dramatic moments of these events, one person would be challenging another with, “Are you a human or an animal? Are you eating grass or rice?” When we would hear such things, my friends and I would bend down holding our stomachs and laugh until we hurt.
But, only a few years ago, I started understanding what this epithet might mean. If it was meant to be derogatory, will it serve the purpose if I were to use it in a fight in today’s age? Aren’t animals actually still doing better in the real wild (where they’re not being hunted and not victims of deforestation and global warming) while we humans are turning ourselves into digital crack heads? Human beings have seem to have forgotten the competitive advantage of not being animals. Has anyone spotted an animal screen sucking at a phone yet?
What’s there to learn from animals?
Observe a group of zebras grazing in an open landscape while a lion comes and attacks one of them. The moment the lion begins dragging away the fallen zebra, the rest of the zebras will promptly get back to grazing. As if nothing horrific had just happened a few moments ago. Animals, unlike humans, can effortlessly live in the moment. They don’t spend time depressed about the past or anxious about the future.
A mother giraffe who has just given birth to its calf will kick the shit out of it. Not once, not twice, but until the baby giraffe fully stands up on its wobbly legs and is ready to follow the mother into the wild. Its a dangerous world out there and the mother giraffe makes sure her baby is equipped to face it. How many of us actually allow our children to learn and not spoon feed them our own ideologies and theories about the real world?
Although, they can emote and even dance in our animated movies, animals have lived complicated social lives using gestures and sounds for as long as we’ve known. They reproduce, demonstrate altruism and kinship and seek each other for emotional and physical comfort. Unlike humans who strive to live with meaning, animals simply strive to survive. They don’t even seem to be living with a bucket list in mind. Too bad. But, isn’t that the nature of their environment? Always changing and full of surprise.
“Sea horses have complicated routines for courtship, and tend to mate under full moons, making musical sounds while doing so. They live in long-term monogamous partnerships. What is perhaps most unusual, though, is that it is the male seahorse that carries the young for up to six weeks. Males become properly “pregnant,” not only carrying, but fertilizing and nourishing the developing eggs with fluid secretions. The image of males giving birth is perpetually mind-blowing: a turbid liquid bursts forth from the brood pouch, and like magic, minuscule but fully formed sea horses appear out of the cloud.” – Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals.
What animals don’t do:
Pigs can roll around in mud and stray dogs can eat out of garbage all day and never get sick once. Of course, with so much of pollution in processed foods and the environment, animals might not be the lucky immunity super heroes anymore. But, they’re lucky because they haven’t heard of the hottest social media app yet.
- Deliberately sit up late at night depriving themselves of sleep and binge on their favorite shows.
- Need a soft mattress to lie down, some can even stand or swim while sleeping.
- Have an insatiable appetite for checking consumer ratings before buying brand name products.
- Take duck face selfies to the horror of their offspring.
- Signal goods and show their purchasing power on social media.
- Write blogs or except to go viral on YouTube.
- Have therapists and psychiatrists, atleast not that we know of.
- Use social media and become delusional about their self worth.
- Opinionate and lament on how everyone else should behave.
- Threaten to press buttons to start nuclear wars on other countries.
- Accumulate plenty of printed paper, gold and bitcoins to feel successful.
- Go to the department store to hoard 36 pack toilet tissues.
- Eat packaged food that can last on the shelf for 10 years.
- Qualify their friends as assholes and awesomes.
- Spend money on drugs and alcohol to become artificially high.
- Leave a beautiful home on the coast of Spain and take a vacation in Disney Land in America.
- Listen to one single song on loop for weeks. Oh that’s right, they don’t have pop music artists.
- Commit suicide live on camera while strangers watch on the Periscope app.
What makes humans superior?
Believe it or not, the evolutionary race has given humanity superior cognitive abilities. Humans can become masters of rational and critical thinking if we choose to acknowledge the well advanced prefrontal cortex region of our brains.
Only humans have the power of imagination, and can understand the cause and effect scenarios. Only we can contemplate deeply on the meaning of life and can change our mind if we want to.
We can thrive in well organized places and with well laid out plans. We can choose to be a conscious consumer by using values of integrity. We can transform children and ourselves into good leaders if we understand empathy. As Einstein said, our genius lies in our intense curiosity.
We can choose to use our intellect to decide between right and wrong and educate ourselves in academia, morality, emotion and spirituality. Our spiritual education gives us the capability to look inward and understand ourselves as we are.
What are our basic needs as humans?
We want to be surrounded by peace and filled with contentment. We have a desperate need for security and certainty. Oddly enough, we also need a challenge, a novelty and ambiguity that you can fight.
We live for recognition, while seeing ourselves grow. We seek entertainment and arts and don’t forget to dance to our favorite music. We take pride in being funny. We crave to be loved and understood. We dread being invisible and unappreciated.
We want to forgive and forget, yet forget to forgive. We distract ourselves dangerously because the mundane and the ordinary is never good enough. We wish for a painless death and if we’re lucky enough we’ll assure ourselves, we might even get that decent burial.
What’s your humanity?
Remove yourself from the planet and see if Earth skips a beat. Is your existence meaningful and relevant to anyone around you? What’s your impact? Ask yourself atleast once a day, “Did I matter?” Only you can choose to live in a way that’s worth dying for. Live well.
That fly on your picnic mat can’t think of that. Its life is all about survival.
Human beings are born too soon. Within hours of arriving in the world, a baby antelope can clamber up to a wobbly standing position; a day-old zebra foal can run from hyenas; a sea-turtle, newly hatched in the sand, knows how to find its way to the ocean. Newborn humans, on the other hand, can’t hold up their own heads without someone to help them. They can’t even burp without assistance. Place a baby human on its stomach at one day old – or even three months old, the age at which lion cubs may be starting to learn to hunt – and it’s stranded in position until you decide to turn it over, or a sabre-toothed tiger strolls into the cave to claim it. The reason for this ineptitude is well-known: our huge brains, which make us the cleverest mammals on the planet, wouldn’t fit through the birth canal if they developed more fully in the womb. (Recently, cognitive scientists have speculated that babies may actually be getting more useless as evolution proceeds; if natural selection favors ever bigger brains, you’d expect humans to be born with more and more developing left to do.)
~ Oliver Burkeman
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About The Article Author:
I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté.
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Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents
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