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The Human Animal

I originally wrote this article in the hidden backwaters of my much forgotten WordPress account back in 2008 or so, maybe even 2007, I honestly forget now. I was - haha - inspired by the little picture here above and, in typical oddball writer fashion I began making stories and thinking about this strange image...It was doing the rounds for Facebook of whatever served as a medium for the rounds being done in at the time. I, of course, entered 'Social Commentary' mode and began to take off on mental wanderings.

It is a well known fact that writers are arrogant little buggers almost universally. We all think we are the best, that our insight into current events hold The Answer. That our social commentary, as represented in our latest work, is going to affect The Big Change! We all feel like M. Night Shyamalan's character in The Lady in the Water as we go off on a writing binge, knowing we are going to do it this time. We might even be right. However, how we see, perceive and think about things, often in a very non-linear and very much odd fashion, that makes us writers isn't it? We start by observing, commenting and then making out our own little sequences of explanation.

As I said, I wrote this long ago but am resurrecting it now because it's just as valid now as it was then. Also I like the photo, the fake chimera looks cute and slightly pensive. Finally, I was thinking about some things related to this very topic earlier on today, let's see whether I add them on or not...

How can we humans say we are not animals? Can one look around the world today and observe animals on the TV, in zoos or, for the more fortunate, in the wild and not say we are so unlike them? Are humans, as it has often been said, just a thin veneer of civilisation away from the 'roughened beast' and not as superior as we like to believe?

It seems human civilisation, in many ways, exists simply to prove the animals wrong, societal norms and rules, laws; they exist to try and hide what we secretly know and are deeply afraid of. If the rules went away, if the consequences were no longer there, if no-one were to judge....

Watch the wars and the conflict around the world and, when we break it down, it can be seen as the ago old act of marking and expanding (or defending) one's territory, of establishing dominance, ensuring feeding and breeding rights. War is one example, fame is another, business is yet another. In all three we will tread upon, 'defeat and cause to retreat (tail a-tween legs) our rivals and detractors in order to gain the dominance and success we think is ours by right. And what is this success but achievement of the most deeply programmed of biological goals? Look at how the young and not so young idolise the famous, the successful and why? Because success is shown as someone who has good genes to pass on, will mother or father good children and bring success and therefore status to anyone who is closely involved with them. So are we so unlike animals, the wolves and lions and other pack animals who have their Alphas who the others challenge or fawn upon, even emulate? Can we say we are so different or even better than them? Or are we actually worse?

Think of the war stories we keep hearing about. When Order breaks down, brutality, survival and killing become all too common, think of the stories we always hear about. The rapes, the murders, the doing as thou wilt which becomes all too common. The Rule of The Gun makes men believe they are above other laws, that they are the law and so can do as they please. Every major war or extended conflict which has taken place ever has been witness to this behaviour. Every single one.

Add to all this that we humans have something 'other' which animals apparently lack, the seat of conscience and reasoning. Some call it the soul, the ki, the yin and yang, the anima; many different names for the same thing; we have a knowledge and understanding of the concept of the future and our place in it, of our own mortality. We know what the possible consequences of our actions may be. We can choose to do or not to do a thing. An animal, we are told, behaves according to it's nature, a human can overcome or alter their nature. We have the moral judgement, no matter the creed or person who drives or inspires that creed, of what is right and what is wrong. We can, in effect be better than animals - so many say - by doing that which gives us no immediate or noticeable benefit, improves our status not at all and may even cost us more than it gains for us. All the religious doctrines of the world touch upon the same thing, have the same laws, to do well by others has it's own reward. That to take advantage of or damage others is not right, and we know this down to the very depth of our souls. We seem to have a hardwired desire to help those less fortunate than us, to preserve and protect our own children or even the children of others and to revile the murderer, the rapist, the selfish boor who takes but does not give back and so...animals do that too don't they? Maybe they do it in a more bestial, less 'human' way but your dog will protect you if you're attacked, all baboons protect their young, elephants have been observed mourning their dead. These instincts are built in deep in order to allow groups of the same species to live and to survive together. But we break the rules, many of us consider ourselves only above the herd and will disadvantage many without blinking.

So are we worse than animals in that we choose to bend or even smash what appear to be the ultimate set in built in rules of Nature or have we reached the point where we are so many, that our prejudices and beliefs now define who our herd or pack are? No longer do species or genetics matter but country, religion, region, belief, idealistic viewpoint. But we crossed the single line which no 'lower animal' has crossed, we kill for the things they merely posture and frighten each other for in the most part. To kill a threat to your species is one thing and can be considered right, to kill for words on a page or shouted by a demagogue can never be.

So, back to the initial premise; are we better or worse than animals? Some would still say better, because we're at the top of the food-chain and yes, as a species indeed we are but place one human or family against one African predator and we see that we are like ants, in huge numbers we are safe. Others will say we are worse because we have the intelligence, the judgement and the ability to choose, to improve, to REASON our actions and overcome our 'baser' instincts yet we do what some animals do (and others no animal would ever do) for pleasure or satisfaction. Others would say we are the same because all we do is just the same as any animal does, just exaggerated by our ability to study and reason these actions through and our vastly superior numbers.

Others would say it doesn't matter, because in a generation or few, there'll be no animals to compare ourselves to anymore, because we'll have wiped them all out. And here, in this fact lies what makes us better or worse than any animal - depending on your viewpoint - so scared are we, with our reason and intelligence, of being just another animal, the thinking animal, that we have embarked on the largest and worst war of all, the war against Nature herself in order to prove to our confused minds that we are better than animal, that Nature has no power over us at all. Now there is a thing no other animal does so judge for yourself.

Judging...that's the other side. I have also ascribed to a rather unpopular view of evolution. I think that maybe evolution happened as Darwin etc. described it but am also of the onion that they got it wrong. You see; here is my premise. Humans like to think that they are special, right? They like to think that they are superior and the very Apex of Creation's Ladder. All religions give us hints of that. Earth was special. The Human race was special. This or that Nation, People or Ethnicity was special. This interpretation of the Bible is the right one and everyone else goes to Hell for Heresy. I am a Christian, by the way, as many of you know. I believe in God and Jesus, though, not in some fancy building or man wearing a dress which costs more than their average congregation earns in a year, between them all. So what does that make me? Me I suppose, I'll have to make up a word, I suppose. Come on writer-man, do your thing!

Oh, I did it again didn't I? Right! So, the human race thinks that they have to be the best and the top of the chain, right? Stands to reason that we evolved from a predator because they're the best right? We had to have been carnivores at least, stands to reason. Except for some very vital evidence no-one likes to talk about.

That's right! There are many thing we SHOULD have in common with our purported ancestors but don't. Things we should have IF we direct-line evolved from them. Things like higher strength, endurance, larger teeth, better eye-sight, a digestive system which is actually built to digest red meat well....we need a Missing Link and there isn't one! See this is the biggest misdirection in human history. There is no missing link. We will never find it but they will keep 'looking', want to know why? The human race doesn't want to admit to it's actual roots does it?

Take a look at human behaviour with me and answer for me a few questions as we go along. Ready? Look at our teeth. OK. Now, look at our behaviour, when disaster strikes what do we do? Look at what happens when panic sets in on a group of humans. Look at how we blindly 'follow the leader'. Look at how we want to belong and be accepted. Sound like familiar behaviour? Sounds a lot like herd behaviour to me, what about you? But chimpanzees do... apophenia. Coined by German neurologist Klaus Conrad, it means looking for patterns where there are none, something humans do a lot of. Trying to find similarities which we are desperate to find. It's not fudging the facts as such, we're not doing it on purpose...

Now, before you get all excited; I am not going on the whole meat-eaters vs vegetarians angle here. I don't care what you choose to put in your body nor by which orifice it gains egress. Humans enjoy making generalisations and assumptions too but we'll get to that another time. I'm simply looking at the evidence we do have and not the evidence we are certain we will find one of these days to prove what we want to be proven.

Look at your average human and tell me one thing, your average human, not Chuck Norris clones or people who're like how you think you are. How long would one of them last in the wild? Now, take your dog, evolved from wolves, domesticated by man. Most breeds couldn't look less like wolves if they tried. For example;

I still bet you cash money that this spoiled little bugger, this seemingly ineffectual puffball of an animal would last at least twice as long as your average person would. See here's the thing. When you read about people surviving in the wild by themselves you realise there is one vitally important thing that they learn in the process. A man, by himself, will struggle to bring down large enough game for himself and be able to eat and carry it because we have no natural adaptations for it. We have to make things to kill with, we have to make fire to cook it with, we cannot eat raw meat, we don't have the teeth for it.

There was a favourite story of mine which spoke about the last human in existence 9 million years into the future and lost in his space craft. About the time he was in stasis (the reason for his advanced age and absence of other humans), a feline race had evolved in pretty much man-shape. The elite and the best had all killed one another in a religious war and left the idiot behind. He was the last member of his species too. If we did evolve from carnivores, we evolved from the idiots, the retards, those lacking even the most basic means of survival. If we evolved from meat-eaters, we evolved from a bloody useless one!

The only thing we seem to have kept from said ancestor is our love of violence and fighting. So maybe there was a carnivorous ancestor of ours somewhere along the chain of our history. Either that or we came from some rather belligerent omnivores/opportunistic omnivores. It really would explain an awful lot, right?

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