Friday, May 15, 2009

Low Expectations

I've been told time and again, when things are at their lowest point, we as humans revert to animalistic urges to want to inflict pain on each other, to clamber on top of each other to reach the highest branches.

No, seriously? 10k+ years of civilization and that's the best you can come up with? We're animals?

This middle-class university-educated introspective egghead biped who lives in a one-bedroom apartment that has heat, hot water, electricity, and the Internet would like to say that "humans are animals" is a horribly, horribly lazy way of considering the state of humanity, and horribly, horribly dismissive of the 10k+ years of civilization we've been through.

I understand that reverting back to the animalistic argument is a form of Occam's Razor, because to believe that it's not our animal selves but how we teach our children, interact with each other in our daily lives, internalize cultural memes, absorb messages from the media blindly - look, I get it: it's a lot of fucking hard work to change all that.

We can harness electricity, we can speak to other people from different parts of the world, perform heart-bypass surgery, transport people through various means on land, over water and through the air - and "we're animals" is the best we can do to explain our societal failings?

Do we want to be animals? Do we want other people to be animals? Of what benefit can there be in relegating humanity as a form of animal?

Why isn't it worthwhile to expect a high level of human decency and humanity from another person?

3 comments:

  1. I don't know if people who use the "humans are animals" argument necessarily mean that, you know, it's a desirable condition to be in.

    Okay, I don't know about other people; I know I don't think that it's something desirable. And it may actually be a function of my personality, but I generally have low expectations of people in general.

    It may actually be just a method of compensating for disappointment, and a damning indictment of how I see myself and other people... but there I go.

    I mean, 10,000+ years of civilization... and we've barely begun to scratch the surface on changing what we still know as "the human condition".

    After all, it's taken planet Earth 4.6 billion years and the universe 15 billion years to bring us about. What's 10,000 years, in comparison to all that?

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  2. T-Boy: YMMV. Myself, I prefer to be disappointed and angry, as opposed to be blase towards other people's failings that will, you know, affect a lot of other people.

    Generally, though, whenever I've seen the "humans are animals" argument, i's usually a catch-all answer for "what's wrong with the world today"... with nary a solution in sight.

    It's not so much "the human condition" that we haven't been able to find - more that we refuse to acknowledge that part of our damning conditions stem from the fact that we are taught to hunger for status and power, that control of others is good, and that fear is something to take shelter under. My question is why anybody would want to buy into that franchise when it clearly sucks.

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