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The glory of being human 0

Dear Bradshaw,

While walking home today, I saw a bird flitting back and forth about ten paces in front of me. It was chasing a moth, and as the bird made another jerky pass the moth suddenly dashed into the street, flapping its wings furiously. The bird darted forward, snatched the moth from the air as if plucking an apple from a tree, and then dropped to the ground with the insect wriggling in its beak.

Continuing on my way, I considered the glory of being human, one strong advantage being that I could walk home without the worry of a giant, flying monster swallowing me alive. After all, nothing preys upon humans (except mosquitoes, maybe, and lions and tigers, depending on where you live and how fast you can run). But then again, we prey upon ourselves, don’t we? And that’s a rather disheartening thought, that humanity’s worst enemy is humanity.

Besides humans, some species of ants kill their own kind, and that’s spine-tingling news, I’d say. Think about it, Shaw, ants and us. Meanwhile, most animals kill out of hunger, in self-defense, or to protect their offspring. Humans, on the other hand, also kill for sport, greed, anger, jealousy, fear and a list of other things. It can be enough to call someone a nincompoop or to suggest that their mother is anything less than virtuous.

How do we rise above it? How do we learn to be like animals that are less (or more) civilized? What can we learn from elephants and antelopes, dogs and ducks, turkeys, peacocks and spider monkeys? Nothing, I think. Mahatma Gandhi was a diamond in the rough. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one in a million. For every Jesus Christ there are countless Genghis Khans, Josef Stalins and Dick Hitlers. Bloodshed seems to be written into the nature of our beings, violence etched into our DNA. Who knows why or where it came from?

Anyway, seeing that bird eat the ex-moth today, well, it got me thinking, you know, about the food chain and survival of the fittest. What I’m getting at is this: we are all, in a sense, moths or birds. In one way or another, it’s either kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. However you look at it, everything is related to every other thing. Whatever happens here matters there. Of course, if you isolate incidents, human history is both awe-inspiring and also a bloody, brutal reality. But if you paste all the pieces together and see everything as one big picture, you may come to understand that Nature’s plan is perfect, even for us humans.

If you can sink your teeth into that, Shaw, let me know how it tastes.

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