13 August 2009

Inherently Flawed?

So I was having a conversation recently about humans, and was told that we humans are inherently flawed, the misfits of nature, the one of the things that does not belong. This is an exceedingly common belief. The Christians believe in original sin, the Buddhists that we are working off past indiscretions, the list goes on, but you get the idea.

I disagree. There are no words for how strongly I disagree. If we were inherently flawed, we would be extinct. We are exactly what we needed to be for our environment, we have adapted readily, and evolved some pretty damn cool traits. So, okay, we can't go toe to toe unarmed against a bear. Neither can a fish. Does that make the fish flawed? We do have a tendency to radically alter our environment. So does a beaver. That we are currently taking it to an extreme only makes us as short sighted as most other mammals, possibly a bit on the stupid side, but hardly inherently or irredeemably flawed. We do kill our own kind, particularly over resources- we are hardly alone amongst other animals in that respect. So why are we flawed? Is it a result of some misguided notion that evolution produces perfection? It doesn't - it produces viability. Is it a belief that a mythological higher being (pick one) created us, and meant us to be flawed? Is it that we no longer fit in the delicate balance of the worlds eco-systems? I think I'll address that one.

We haven't existed in total harmony with our surrounding eco-system for at least 10,000 years. If you want to get back to nature, you've got a long trip. We have however in most cases managed to pace ourselves so the rest of the world can keep up. We can't go back to the beginning - the idea is ridiculous. Our species sacrificed speed for bipedalism and opposable thumbs, claws and fangs and fast maturation gave way to our great big marvelous brains, and instead of growing fur, we make clothing to suit the weather. Each of these steps was a remarkable adaptation that we should be celebrating, not cursing.

I am made exactly the way I should be made. I can easily adapt to live in any climactic zone on the planet. I can choose to understand something instead of fearing it. I can make a place to live, or tools to help me live, or beautiful works of art that enrich life. I can make music, and dance to it. I can communicate my ideas to others and be part of a community that helps and supports its members. Like any other mammal, I can be happy, sad, angry, afraid, lustful or tired. I can learn and I can teach. I can even leave this planet briefly and go out into space for a visit, or go to the moon. Soon I may be able to go to Mars. I can understand why I get sick, and do things to prevent illness or cure it. I (not personally, but we) can split the atom, and use it to heat my house in the winter. We have the means to live cleanly, and healthily and far longer than we ever have before. We are able to understand the damage we have done, and begin to fix it. We are able to see that sometimes there is no instant gratification, and learn patience. We are able to see the world from another's point of view, and learn compassion. We are able to remember pain, and heal it. We are able to remember love, and share it.

Inherently flawed my ass; we humans are so incredibly cool, it blows me away. Anyone who thinks there is something fundamentally Wrong with us isn't just seeing the glass half empty, they're looking at a full glass and seeing nothing. Why is it so hard to accept that we are cool? I think the notion of being flawed is like any lie - repeat it enough times and you begin to believe it.

It doesn't matter if you believe in god(s)/goddess(es), spirits, heroes, villains, cheese or flying spaghetti monsters, next time someone tells you that humans need fixing, tell them we aren't broken. Tell them we are awesome.

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