As we move forward after one of the most deceptive and meaningless United States presidential elections to date, it may be time for the people of the world to concede something that should have been obvious throughout most of our history: we are not all that evolved. We have opposable thumbs, and are able to manipulate most of the components of our environment, but we are not functionally more evolved than any of the other creatures that occupy our planet. It's time to step back, and face reality.
While we believe ourselves to be capable of "higher thought" and capable of assessing "deep philosophical truths," it seems more likely that we are closer to the chimps in zoos that throw their feces at us than we wish to admit. At least the chimps do not, or perhaps cannot, imprison other creatures for their own amusement or out of vain prerogative. Our thoughts appear to center primarily on our wants and needs, with a sadly inadequate amount of consideration given to how our actions might impact our fellow creatures on the planet, including fellow humans.
If it sounds like there are hidden accusations of thoughtlessness, selfishness, and vanity contained in this post, let me correct that by stating directly that humans are mostly thoughtless, selfish, and vain creatures. We create poverty and suffering, destroy our environment, and wage wars in the pursuit of greed for resources and power. While there are faint traces of such behaviors in other sentient creatures on the planet, none have elevated such behaviors to their primary pursuits of life in the same way that human beings have.
Poverty exists only because of the human creation of scarcity. There are no natural disasters that cannot be dealt with in a timely manner that would correct any shortfalls they create. And, the lack of social or political will to see that all humans and living creatures in general have their rights to survive and thrive protected is a persistent anathema to the advancement of humanity. The technology arguably exists for every person on the planet to have adequate food, shelter, medical care, and have all other basic needs met, if everyone would simply cooperate in a reasonable manner. Instead, some humans hoard resources, some lust after power, some start wars, some aggressively impose their religious/superstitious dogma on others while possessing zero tangible evidence that their respective deities or beliefs have any substance, or even represent anything practical or remotely logical.
The most depressing part of our lack of "higher function" is our mistaken belief that we are somehow more developed and sophisticated than the other creatures on the planet. It is that arrogance that allows us to continually engage in systematically enslaving, destroying, exploiting, and generally damaging almost everything we come in contact with, and often with the ignorant belief that some overarching deity or "force" has ordained our foolish behaviors. We are much like children that have been spoiled by neglectful parents. We have had power and promiscuity substituted for love and compassion, and our actions reflect the lack of spiritual and philosophical depth this has created. We are not "masters of our environment," as many might believe. We are more correctly identified as slaves to our ignorance.
There is likely little we can do to escape our primitive natures. Genuine evolution may eventually move us away from our arrogant and narrow-minded behaviors, if we do not destroy ourselves and the Earth first. It just seems more practical that we can at least begin to change our fates by simply recognizing that we are not separate from Nature, but are a part of it. Contrary to what many religious "leaders" might preach, humans are simply animals like all others. We are not unique or special or endowed with any rights or insights that other creatures do not possess in various forms. We do not have the right to push other creatures aside for any reason. In essence, humans are no more "divine" than other other creature that lives on or in the Earth. Recognizing that would be a tremendous step towards advancing our own evolution.
Additionally, we need to do what the late Joseph Campbell, the expert on Religion and Mythology suggested, and develop a "new mythology" that fits our current understanding of the world, and matches the circumstances of our time. We have numerous dogmatic religions that draw on ideas based on cultural and technological beliefs held for centuries. As we learn new things, let's incorporate them into our spirituality. It is time to let go of superstition, and adopt spiritual ideas that empower, console, and inspire compassion in humans, not competition and contempt. The core teachings of great spiritual leaders like Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are great places to start, but the manner in which they are imposed upon the people of the world needs a lot of tweaking to make them fit where we are today. Many might consider such ideas "blasphemy." They are actually just practical and logical.
Humanity needs to accept its imperfections, and do the best we can with them to aspire to higher goals. Wars, poverty, and suffering are not acceptable realities for us. We may not be able to eliminate them completely, but there is no reason to hold them as virtues, in the name of "competition" or some ignorant Randian ideal of one human's supremacy over another. Hoarding resources is not a virtue. It is something that is likely to continue, but perhaps the tendencies to hoard resources can be used to help rather than harm. Economic, social, and political realities have to be adjusted to recognize that we are not divine masters of the Earth, but simple furless apes, that need to be more humble, tolerant, and willing to accept the rights of other living creatures to survive and thrive. The time for this to happen is now, not "some time in the future." Peace.
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