Saturday, May 20, 2017

One Hundred and Twenty One

Why are we so cruel? Other animals hunt and kill each other because they must, because life must feed on life. Only we humans hunt and kill for the pleasure of it, the schadenfreude.

I assume it’s because of our neotony. The young of other species play at hunting, play with their captured prey before killing it. But by the time they’re adults they’ve mastered the art of hunting, and take death seriously. It remains a game for us because we remain children.

It’s because we’re children, conscious of our helplessness, that we turn some into our servants so we won’t have to work, and others into our livestock so we won’t have to hunt. We do it not because we must, as other species do, in order to survive, but because killing and/or enslaving others merely because we can allows us to forget how helpless we really are.

We respected our slaves and our livestock when we still recognized our kinship, our common weakness. That respect was one source of religion. We deified the totem animals who died so that we might live, just as we did our ancestors. But as we seemed to grow strong, we lost respect for everyone and everything that seemed weak.

Natural philosophers studied the world, hoping to know their creator through his creation. Finding no evidence of him, they did not conclude that he didn’t exist. They concluded instead that he existed only in us, brahman to our atman. Only we are immortal, as he is. Other animals are avatars of god in the east, and in the west machines he invented for our convenience, pawns in a game god plays with man, his only natural child (they include those animals who look like us, and appear to be as human as we are, but do not worship god as we do). Using them as god intended is not cruel because they are mere automatons, as Descartes said, and do not suffer as we do.

This world is what we’ve made it. It seems cruel to us because we’re cruel to each other, and to ourselves. We alternate between exaltation because we’re all-powerful - powerful enough to destroy the world, if we want to - and depression because we can’t or won’t do what we know we should, and probably will destroy the world. We know what we should do, but only as children know what adults do, without being able to do it themselves.

This is what our life, my life, is, but I don’t care. 

Even if this planet circling this star should be home to the only life there is, the only things alive as we are, I don't care because I want to know and understand more than this, as much as I am able to understand of what life is, and what it can be, before mine ends. I want to understand myself as well as I can before I cease to be myself.

I know I’ve been cruel. Not wittingly, but because it’s my nature, human nature. None of us mean to be cruel. We’re cruel as children, left alone on the shore of the endless sea, are thoughtlessly cruel to the little creatures they catch and play with to pass the time until their parents return for them.

We are children without a parent, ronin without a master. Edward Abbey said that because most men are unable to govern themselves, they’re even less able to govern others. He imagined this was an argument for anarchy, but most people see it as an argument for putting up with any master, however bad. The only thing worse than a bad master is no master. Namque pauci libertatum pars magna iustos dominos volunt.

Before Lord God made the sea and the land
He held all the stars in the palm of His hand
And they ran through His fingers like grains of sand
And one little star fell alone.

And the Lord God hunted through the wide night air
For that little star lost in the wind down there
And He stated and He promised
He'd take special care
So it wouldn't get lost again.

Now Man don't mind if the stars grow dim
And the clouds blow over and darken him
So long as Lord God's watching over him
Keeping track of how it all goes on.

But I've been walking through the night and the day
'Til my eyes get weary and my head turns grey
And sometimes it seems maybe God's gone away
Forgetting His promise that we heard Him say
And we're lost out here in the stars.
Little stars
Big stars
Blowing through the night
And we're lost out here in the stars.

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