Hello readers, Fletch again
Today I want to discuss the ebb and flow of human culture; the endless struggle between the rigid animal and the developing humanity. This fight has been human kinds’ longest battle. To seek balance between two essential forces in the human psyche; that of the primordial monster every human animal is and the rare, sapient thinker every human being can be.
Since the dawn of human kind there has been a unique element that has complicated life for an otherwise simple organic specimen. That element, typically referred to as humanity, can also be named empathy, sympathy or simply the ability to extend ones’ priorities beyond immediate selffish needs like any predator into something greater and more complex.
So what is your humanity? Simply put it is your ability to care for things that can potentially never return that favor. To show compassion for the weak, to feel pain when something suffers even if that something is not close to you, or not even human itself.
Although I refer to this concept as ‘humanity’ the interesting thing is that many non-human species display this trait. Many marine mammals such as whales and dolphins have shown compassion for other animals not of their species including human beings. This is the defining and most important quality of being human, yet it is a trait not solely belonging to human beings. Thus, when an animal we think of as unintelligent or simple can show this trait; yet we can not, it suggests that we deny it not because it is in our nature but because we choose not to.
Anger, fear or pure apathy are the easiest choices for any human. They’re simple and uncomplicated. The premise is that you are not me, thus I have no reason to show you anything. Not respect, not compassion, not empathy. Why should I? How does it benefit me? Fuck you, fuck everything about you and fuck your suffering too because that’s your problem not mine.
Seeking ones’ humanity is the ultimate realization that there are things more important than yourself and that at it’s greatest is dignity and respect. That you create a sense of integrity for yourself; of things you believe are below you, and things you strive to achieve. If your position towards another living thing is that it’s suffering doesn’t matter; then you have sacrificed a piece of your humanity in exchange for ease. You have said my morality is too complicated and challenging so instead I choose the easier route, and find any number of endless justifications for why it is ok for me to treat another living thing with prejudice, apathy or hatred.
The long struggle of human kind has been to create a balance between these forces. The need to be strong, to survive, to feed and to proliferate while being subject to the uncomfortable and constant churning of a sapient mind capable of intelligent thought and complex feelings that make us do things that do not necessarily net us food, wealth or comfort. This is significant because without our humanity there would be no civilization. Only through humanity does one shift from a simple primeval being living in close knit tribes and clans with basic existence into a thing that is capable of seeing a wider picture where you comprehend that suffering of others and create an environment in which the suffering for all decreases due to the cooperation of a greater effort more important than even your own life.
If the devil exists he or she is not an angel that fell from Heaven and haunts human kind in it’s dreams. The devil is the dark, primordial beast in you, the thing that encourages you towards violence and anger and carves away your empathy so that you can not simply ignore the suffering of others but perhaps actually enjoy it.
If God exists he or she is the intelligence within you; the conscious awareness of who and what you are and your ability to achieve better. To sacrifice and martyr yourself in the interest of others; to give of yourself and believe that by doing so you are creating a better world and easing the suffering of more than just yourself.
The self vs the man, the yin and the yang, two disparate forces pushing and pulling against each other yet which do you ultimately give in to? If you think you are a good and compassionate being that is sweet and well meaning but the truth is you may not be. How far does your sympathy reach? How long does your compassion last? Is it there all the time? Do you find yourself thinking that the dead man deserved it and his grieving family isn’t your problem? Do you find yourself justifying methods of safety and prosperity that require some other group of living things to suffer? Do you turn away from it?
You can be a human being, or you can be an animal. It’s true that every human being is an animal that is a biological truth. Yet, not every human animal is really a human being. In fact many of them are just well dressed and articulate animals capable of speech and math and writing and in some cases not even that, but with the basic mental capabilities of a wolf or a fish.
Seeking your humanity means seeking something better than yourself and realizing that your needs are not the only needs that matter. Accepting that you should be upset at the suffering of others and comprehend a way in which it could stop. And to take pleasure in the suffering of others? Well, that isn’t the behavior of an animal. That is uniquely human. An intriguing contradiction isn’t it? That the two most human qualities of a human being… the devil, and God, are whether you actually justify and even enjoy the suffering of something else, or whether you think it’s wrong and are disgusted by it.