Humans with a lot of time on their hands, plenty of food, shelter and not a lot to do have the tendency to feel guilty about being on the planet. They have the non-luxury of being able to think too much about what it is we’re really up to here – we eat, sleep, reproduce, expel waste and try to stay alive, sometimes shamefully – and it drives them nuts. Makes them angry, depressed. Of course it does. Our lives, if you can afford to dwell on it, basically come down to a lot of obnoxious chewing, flaking, heavy breathing and crying. The same goes for most creatures on earth. Except we humans have figured out how to hack it out the best, or worst, depending on who you ask.
In developed countries, many of us don’t have to hunt anymore or grow our own food to be nourished. Some people still do. Most of them are pretty rad. Instead, some of us figure out how to make or build new things that are of value and use. The rest of us just do the building and the making. We get rewarded with money, hopefully enough to buy dinner and gadgets we’ve dreamt up that are supposed to make life easier. I’d say gadgets just make life different – not necessarily better or worse (I wasn’t alive when there weren’t electric can openers, so I can’t say which era was more bitchin’). The difference, however, relates to time. Humans in the modern world can buy more of it. More time to be happy, relaxed, sad, scared and crazy. Other tribes and forms of life don’t have the option. They’re too busy finding ways to chomp or not get chomped.
With time we have carved out an existence that allows us a measure of security and comfort – enough, anyway, to raise our children past the first day they can snatch a cookie on their own – in an uncomfortable and insecure world, and the ability to grow old when people didn’t use to live past 50. With time we’ve tried to improve our situation. Same as any other species on earth.
Yet some consider what we do to be unnatural. The things we make are synthetic. The food we produce is not organic. It’s all man-made, how awful. We use chemicals, build skyscrapers, drive cars, rely on plastic, commit crimes against each other, live in housing developments and wear a Snuggie on the couch when it’s cold. Some refer to us as parasites. We’re not of this planet. We aren’t supposed to be here.
I used to think that way, too. Then I took my fingers out of the Doritos bag, got a job, worked hard and realized that you can cook up a lot of malarkey when you’ve got nothing going on.
We could be parasites. I’m not saying we’re not. It might actually explain a few things. The truth is we don’t know what we are. We know we are here. We’re not sure how. We’re not sure why. We just are. That said, we might be doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. Like plants, ants, fish and meerkats. Making the best of it for ourselves.
And who’s to say plants, ants, fish and meerkats wouldn’t have it the same way as us if they knew they could? If they knew they didn’t have to constantly fight, battle the elements, or be left to die when they get hurt or become too old to work, I’m sure they might ask: “How can I get me some of that!?” ( I’ve heard people say they like animals more than they like most people. They’ve never been wounded and hoping for compassion on the Serengeti, I’m guessing.)
For all we know, ants could be looking at their cities with the same disgust we reserve for ours. Maybe they call our crumbs “all natural” because they didn’t make them. Maybe they just go about their business. No time to be questioning their existence.
Time has given us much. If we must think because of it, let’s not be too hard on ourselves.