WHAT MAKES HUMANS DIFFERENT THAN ANIMALS?
The question is assuming that we all agree that humans are different than animals. Are we significantly different or are we just another species of animal with its own unique set of characteristics? When we begin to analyze the question, we must turn our attention to, and examine, the behaviour of humans and the behaviour of animals.
Animals build their shelters and we build our homes, animals hunt for food and we hunt, well, the shopping aisles. Animals communicate when they are hurt, hungry or ready to procreate and we pick up our cell phones or get on Facebook and communicate all the same things. Animals are territorial and will fight to defend their home and family, humans load their weapons and claim to do the same. Animals will show affection for each other and share with their families and we might share our chocolates…every once in a while. So are we truly so different?
Imagine the scene…
Momma bird places the last twig into her nest then announces, “There is just something missing from this wall.”
Pappa bird makes his entrance with (what some would say is) a lovely piece of modern art. “I picked this up at the yard sale down the street. Those squirrels are brilliantly creative.”
“Oh Pappa Bird, it’s absolutely perfect for our son Noah’s nest.”
“I will not have that painting on my wall,” exclaims Noah bird, “My friends will think I’m a sissy.”
“Noah,” sings Mamma bird, “when will you learn to validate yourself and stop relying on others for your sense of self worth?”
“It won’t help to psychoanalyze the boy, Mamma” chirps Pappa bird, “ever since he tried leaving the nest and had trouble flying with those short wings he’s been a wreck.”
“Do you have to bring up my short wings all the time Pa? I simply can’t live in this nest,” tweets Noah bird.
“It’s not so easy out there trying to catch worms for yourself son, there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring,” instagrams Pappa bird.
“Someday I will get to Pollywood and the world will recognize my ability to dance and act and sing. I’ll be a star and the world will love me,” Facebooks Noah bird. Noah’s friend all “like” his status. Noah feels validated and secure.
Ok, ok we’re different than animals. We worry about the future, reflect on the past and we have a conscience that scrutinizes and weighs our actions. We create art for the sake of art and explore for the sake of adventure. We analyze our choices and (hopefully) seek a sense of moral correctness. We lift each other or destroy each other with our words and seek to grasp that which cannot be grasped, trying to define the infinite.
I once heard it said that “we don’t know who discovered water, but I can assure you that it wasn’t the fish.” We are on the inside of our reality such that we do not have the ability to step outside of it and see ourselves for who we truly are; amazing creatures that love, express and create. In the next three blogs we’re going to discuss three powerful ways that we, as humans, express our unique abilities: free will, the expression of speech and connecting with the Divine. The fact that we can ponder and have this discussion is a testament to the infinite nature of our inner being; the potential for a sense of individuality that can never be experienced by the animals.