How to be a Human

May 15th, 2008.

Here’s a question I’ve been asking a lot of people lately: What makes a human a human? Define humanity. What sets the human race apart from any other species of animal on this planet? How are we ‘better?’

When confronted with this question, most people will parrot all the typical scientific answers. We have larger brains and a more complex thought process. We have opposable thumbs and the physical ability to build some pretty amazing things.

But the size of our brains and the mechanical ability of our hands is just dumb evolutionary luck. Why should we develop ego over something about ourselves that we have no control over?

Some people insist that humans are better than animals because we’re at the top of the food chain. However, the tendency to judge the value of society strictly by its ability to kill the most efficiently makes me a little uneasy. For one thing, it creates an awfully slippery slope. Are Americans more human than the members of some tribe in a third world country simply because we have bigger guns? Furthermore, citing ‘ability to kill’ as the most important asset of the human race kind of sells us all short.

Lastly, some people claim humans are better because we were chosen by God. As an Atheist, I find ‘The God Excuse’ in most matters to be counterproductive at best and actively harmful at worst. With that said, it’s almost deliciously ironic than in this circumstance, the God mongers are as close to right as anyone has come yet

Of course, the idea that we might have been ‘chosen by God’ is not only silly, but completely irrelevant. What is relevant are the possible reasons why we would have been chosen if God actually did exist.

The answer to that lies in the human brain. Or, more specifically, our ability to ‘see the big picture.’ In short, if God existed, he would have chosen us because our thought process is complex enough that we are able to comprehend how are actions affect others.

The difference between a human and an animal is an animal is solely focused on his own genetic survival. He wants to stay alive and he wants his children to stay alive. The rest of the world and how it works is beyond his comprehension.

A human, on the other hand, possesses a survival instinct as well a desire to preserve and protect the rest of the world. Animals don’t give a shit about the rain forest or the plight of the giant panda. Humans do. An animal never stays up late at night worried that another animal, unrelated to him, may be suffering. Humans do.

Are humans sometimes misguided, illogical, or just plain wrong? Sure. But at least they care. The ability to care about something greater than yourself makes you a human. It’s only in the execution where mistakes are understandably made.

The ‘top of the food chain’ jerks like to fancy themselves these amazing predators. This couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, a predator kills to survive. This instinct is necessary. When a lion kills a gazelle, he does so simply to fill his belly. Afterwards, he probably takes a nap. He does not go out and kill 100 more gazelles he has no intention of eating just because he can.

The fact is modern day “humans” rarely display predatory behavior. They don’t spend their lives acquiring overly large houses, ipods, and shit made out of diamonds because they need them to survive. They do it because they’re mindless consumers who need more, more, more. And once they have it, they want it again…only bigger, better, and faster. Why they want it doesn’t matter. Just shut up already and charge it to their credit cards!

This behavior is in no way predatory. It’s parasitic.

Make no mistake about what I’m trying to imply here: if you live your life mindlessly consuming, without thought or consequence, completely oblivious to how your behavior affects the rest of the world, then you are not a human. I don’t give a flying fuck what your DNA suggests. You are an animal. You are a parasite. You have no more intrinsic value than that of a common maggot. In fact, I would go so far as to say you have less value than a common maggot. The maggot is at least doing his job. You’re just being repetitive.

Existing at the top of the food chain is not a privilege. Nor is a free pass to rape and pillage and plunder. It’s a responsibility. As humans, we have an obligation to contribute to this world and protect all the creatures and resources that come with it. That’s our job.

If we want to continue to insist that humans are somehow ‘better’ or ‘different’ from the rest of the animal kingdom, then we have to be willing to embrace that which sets us apart. It’s not all fun and games, this ‘being a human’ business. It’s fucking work. But we do it, because nothing else can. So if you’re not ready, willing, able and even eager to do your part, please return your ‘Human Card’ now. Quit demanding recognition because you were blessed with fancy thumbs.

The problem with this world is we have too many parasites and not enough contributors.

Look, I realize that a vast majority of the population longs for a world in which everyone happily does their own thing without it affecting anyone else. I felt the same way as a child. I also wanted unicorns to be real. Unfortunately, we have a better shot at inventing unicorns than we do at creating a society where people can do whatever they please with consequence to others. A society without individual consequence to the whole is fucking impossible. We don’t live life in a vacuum!

If you lie, cheat, steal, litter, waste or ignore, those actions will affect others. Likewise, if you help, clean, give, or heal, those actions will affect others. Everything you do and everything you don’t do feasibly affects someone else. You can’t even speak on this planet without affecting another person. You can’t breathe on this planet without affecting something else. Hell, you can’t even kill yourself without creating a consequence for someone else.

Welcome to reality, folks! There are no unicorns here either. Yet.

Convincing people that it is impossible to opt out of society even if they really, really want to is hard work. I’ve noticed that if I try, I produce 1 of 3 results.

1. They put their fingers in their ears, scream ‘La la la! I can’t hear you’ really loudly and outright refuse to believe that a world where they can take care of only themselves without any negative consequences to others will never, ever exist.
2. The lament the unfairness of it all while simultaneously embracing the role of perpetual parasite.
3. They accept their position on this planet and start working for something greater than themselves. They contribute.

Again, I say the problem with this world is we currently have too many parasites and not enough contributors. We have a generation of people who would prefer to live in a bubble, but no bubbles to give them. We have more maggots than we have room for. Even worse, we have maggots that speak. We have maggots that won’t let a day go by without curtly informing you what they are not responsible for.

Want an example?

A bunch of loan officers gave money to irresponsible people who were financially incapable of honoring the terms of the loan. As a result, people defaulted on their loan in droves creating an economic crisis. The value of the American dollar plummeted and gas prices rose for everyone. At the end of the day, who is responsible? We’re all affected, but no one is accepting culpability.

Loan officers continue to insist that the irresponsible people shouldn’t have accepted the money in the first place. The irresponsible people point at the greedy loan officers and cry trickery. Everyone is too busy playing the victim role and pointing the finger at someone else to accept personal responsibility in creating suffering or strife for others.

So who is really responsible? The human or the animal? Obviously, it’s the human’s fault, every time. Remember, an animal is incapable of seeing the ‘big picture’ and therefore needs human protection. The animal, through no fault of his own, victimizes others and if he’s unlucky enough ultimately victimizes himself as a result.

The question shouldn’t be who is responsible in this scenario. The question should be: between the greedy loan officers and the irresponsible people, which one is the human? The answer to that is also simple: the first one to raise their hand and say, “It was my fault.”

An animal will never accept culpability for anything, ever. An animal will idly watch another animal beat the shit out of some poor kid and when you ask him why he didn’t intervene, he will say shit like:

“It’s none of my business.”

“He’s not my kid and therefore not my responsibility.”

This befuddles the human race because we understand our responsibility towards creatures weaker than ourselves. Whether they are biologically related to us or even belong to the same species as us is a moot point. We’re human and it’s our job to protect them. Because if we don’t, who will? No one else is capable, so the responsibility lies with us. Furthermore, humans realize that allowing animals to ‘parent’ potentially human children creates dire consequences for the rest of the world.

An animal will ignore that child, but you better believe he will be the first one to cry foul when that same child grows up and rapes his daughter. He’ll gladly place the blame on the parent, claiming that it was the actual beatings and the neglect and the molestation that turned the child bad. He’ll even blame the child and try to convince us that the kid willingly chose to become a monster. In reality, it’s his short sighted animal mentality that is really to blame. He feigns helplessness, refusing to consider that his intervention could have prevented a tragedy.

I know I’m starting to ramble. I know I’m being vague. So instead of going on and on and on with this lecturing, I’m going to tell you how you can tell whether or not you are a human or an animal. Revisiting my last example, I’m going to set up a scenario for you. Afterwards, I’m going to ask you a question.

A parent beats a child. A neighbor knows the child is being beaten, but for personal reasons, refuses to become involved. The child grows up to become a monster.

Who is to blame? Is it the monster’s fault for merely existing? Or is it the parent who twisted him, arguably a monster himself and so mentally fucked in the head that he likely didn’t realize that beating his child was wrong in the first place? Or is the fault of the completely sane and stable neighbor, who knew it was happening, who knew it was wrong, who possessed the ability to see the ‘big picture’ and still refused to do anything to stop it?

Thank carefully about this question because your answer determines your level of humanity. Furthermore, if you need the answer spelled out for you by me, I can almost guarantee you that you answered wrong. Welcome to the animal kingdom.

Don’t worry, us humans will eventually figure out a way to take care of you, too.

Similar Articles

4 Responses to How to be a Human

  1. VA: How to be a Human

    […] Original post: How to be a Human […]

  2. It’s a Wonderful Dad’s Life » Blog Archive » I am Starting to Look Like a Mindless Groupie

    […] V completely floors me at times with her insight and perspective. And I swear each time I track back to her that this is the last time, especially since I track back to so few blogs. But then she writes another amazing post that really just floors me with its insight and perspective. And I simply have to put a link and say, “you have got to read this.” So here it is. Go read: How to be a Human. […]

  3. Everyone thinks they’re a philosopher. « A Screed Apart

    […] an example: see Verruca’s How to be a Human. (And, like so many others out on the web, she hasn’t a clue as to how evolution actually […]

  4. on the ELF, the Green Scare, and so-called “eco-terrorism” | Soundtrack for Insurrection

    […] means available to us. Failure to do so is a crime against humanity and a crime against earth.  As V points out, it is the fact that we are willing and able to stand up for each other and for our planet that […]