By degree or by kind?

Published by Wreybies in the blog Ponderings of a Pachyderm. Views: 79

There have been a number of discussions as of late in the forum that have given me pause, and cause to think on the nature of myself as a human, as a homo sapiens, as a gay man, as a Puerto Rican, as an American, as a Republicrat, as a multiculturalist, as an amateur anthropologist and linguist, and as a writer.

I have, on occasion, tossed into more than one discussion my views on the root causes of the issues in question and find my comments usually ignored. This does not hurt me. It actually gives me more reason to believe that what I believe to be true, in fact, is true.

I have had my personal beliefs and viewpoints heavily affected by the writings of Octavia Butler. Ms. Butler was an African American woman writing in the genre of science fiction. Her work is, in my opinion, benchmark.

One of the prevalent themes to be found in nearly all of her works is the questions,”What am I? What is this animal that I am? And what does the answer to that question mean about me as an individual?”

She tackles the question from many fronts, the most common of which is the idea of symbiosis either by intelligent creatures or by non-intelligent microorganisms.

Anywho... From reading her works, I have taken away many ideas that fit well with me the anthropologist. It doesn’t hurt me to think of myself as an animal. It doesn’t damage me to peak inside the wrapper of behavioral dynamics to look at the inner workings. In no way am I disturbed at making parallels between my own behavior and that of my cousins, the apes and monkeys. I am not made nervous when I think of myself as a collection of the millions of years of evolution that have gone before me.

In fact, these are the only questions which matter at all to me.

As of late, we have had threads on in the forums concerning differences in race and religion, politics and economics. We have asked if prostitution should be illegal and whether pictures of human women breastfeeding their babies are pornographic in some way. We have asked why the Middle East is always at war and why our economy is in a state that will be written about in history books. We have asked about ethnic cleansings and holy jihads.

We have talked about all of these things, and yet almost never do we ask why do we do these things? What is the fundamental drive in the human creature that causes ethnic cleansing to crop up here and there on the planet. Why do we have racism? Not the history of it, but the simple phenomenon of racism which is so prevalent in many cultures. Why would we question the correctness of a woman showing her breast to do one of the most fundamentally natural things a human can do, feed a child?

Why? And when I ask why, I don’t ask about geopolitics or historical references to single case scenarios. I ask why at the very root, at the core of the phenomenon. Why do these things, which we claim to hate when we are having educated conversations, still happen again and again, and again?

What is this thing that I am? What kind of creature am I? Why are these behaviors part of my (yes, my) inner working? And honestly, at what point did we make the blunder of thinking that we are not animals? At what point did we conceive of the lie that our evolutionary history has nothing to do with who and what we are? At what point did we step off the cliff and decide we were different in kind, not just by degree?

Answer that and I think the rest of the questions will be swept away as unnecessary.
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