Mankind Part II: We’re not that great
As I said last week, part of me is fascinated by how amazing human beings are, but only part of me. This is because another part of me is also fascinated by how hypocritical, irrational and just flat-out horrible we can be, despite our unprecedented cognitive abilities.
We do so many things that just don’t make sense to me. Our bodies, these incredible vessels that allow us to exist, are so important to us, yet many of us do not give our bodies the exercise they need to stay healthy. There are so many different things to eat and drink— healthy things— but many of us choose to fuel our bodies with fast food and soda instead. Instead of eating more of our healthier main courses and side dishes, many save room for sugar-loaded desserts. We poison ourselves with alcohol because it feels good, regardless of the damage we may be inflicting on our livers. Many of us smoke and become addicted to cigarettes, spending money on something that will likely kill us prematurely. We lay out in the sun and expose ourselves to harsh UV radiation just to slightly and only temporarily change the shade of our skin. Some of us even starve ourselves in order to fit into the stereotypical idea of beauty. I thought the popular notion about life was that it was good and that people want to live as long as possible, but our actions suggest otherwise.
We believe in farfetched religions – religions that contradict other practiced religions – generally just because our parents forced us into them. We dedicate our lives to a deity, base our actions and morals on our beliefs, without proof that this omnipotent being even exist.
We fear death, an inevitable phenomenon, without understanding it. Oh yes, we claim to understand it, we claim that we are certain of what will happen once we die, but we simply cannot know what death will bring. And even if the religion we practice describes death as a utopian existence for its followers, we still fear it and are distraught by its presence.
We are known for our morals and good-will, it seems we even named word “humane” after ourselves, yet we do not hesitate to take the lives of other “lesser” beings. We chop down trees for our homes, kill insects when they intrude these homes, and slaughter animals for food, clothing and sport. We claim to value life, but that’s just a façade isn’t it?
Aside: In “The Dark Knight,” I think the Joker was right when he said, “Their morals, their code: it’s a bad joke dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you: When the chips are down, these ‘civilized people,’ they’ll eat each other.” In real life, I’m fairly certain that one of those ferries wired to explode would have blown up.
We are selfish, only caring about our own happiness, our own social and fiscal wellness, and the few people we have direct kinship and social ties with. We drive by the homeless with their cardboard signs held loosely in their hands. The wealthy would rather spend their extra money on fancy dinners, unnecessary electronic devices, and overpriced vehicles than help those in need.
We have children we cannot support. We deny marriage to homosexual couples. We drive under the influence of alcohol. We make laws and then we break these laws. We idolize athletes and performers, men and women who are just like us, when we should be idolizing those who actually do something of merit, granted we should idolize anyone at all. We long for love and yet show hatred. We dream of acceptance, yet ridicule those who are just a little bit different. We concentrate on our differences instead of our similarities. We dwell on our weaknesses instead of celebrating our strengths. We take so much for granted and are rarely ever satisfied. We steal. We rape. We kill. Our history is built with bloodshed and suffering. The list goes on and on.
Aside: We are also having adverse affects on the planet. We are contributing to the melting of polar ice caps through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. We liter the earth with our waste and do not recycle half as much as we should. Our fertilizers end up polluting surrounding water bodies, destroying aquatic life. This list goes on and on as well.
In addition to” The Dark Knight,” you are also likely familiar with a movie entitled “The Matrix.” Remember when the program known as Agent Smith was interrogating Morpheus? He, or should I say it, said, “[Humans] are not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area, and you multipl, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern… A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague…”
Some of us are quite aware of how illogical our decisions seem, yet still make them again and again. I myself fit into this category. Knowing the likely outcomes of these decisions ahead of time and objectively thinking about all the horrible things mankind has done, all the things we are still doing, makes me wonder whether we’re half as intelligent and half as great as we make ourselves out to be.