- Museum no boon to Civic Center Park
- Six years after 9/11
- Helping flawed fathers measure up
- A solution to illegal immigration
- This biofuel plant too close for comfort
- Dumping the junk/New law will mean better nutrition for kids
- Low on the evolutionary scale
- Larry Craig and the Democratic Golden Boys
- Voters betrayed by Ref C shell game
- The reality of single payer
Low on the evolutionary scale
This Speakout has not been edited.
Now I am descended from nordic tribes who put a great deal of stock in the spirituality of nature and wildlife, and I consider it a measure of mankind’s maturity the degree to which we can look into the eyes of smaller creatures and see ourselves. Even the most unsentimental branches of science are finding it harder and harder to draw the line between “human”
I’m not sure what tribe my host is descended from, or if he’s not done descending, but his impulse toward our picnicking squirrel was telling. “I bet I can pick that sucker off,” and he went in and fetched out a small rifle with a telescopic sight. Somehow I sensed that he didn’t share much empathy with his warm-blooded neighbor, if he was so eager to blast it into expiring bloody bits. And I understand there’s a lot of that going around, lately, in hotter, sandier locales than our own.
I can’t think of any instance in which I might have experienced such delicious, exquisite irony: The very distinction I’m sure my shooting friend uses, the rationalization I think he views wildlife through his gunsight with, is the same deficit of mentality, the same lack of ethical capacity, that lumps him with those creatures and separates him from my kind.
His absence of humaneness, his inability, whether incurably innate or merely naive, puts him low on my evolutionary scale of civilized wisdom.
As babes in kinderland, we enter the drooling, diapered mob ready to bite, kick, shove and grab to gain our wants by physical means. Somewhere in prehistory, ancestors of our kind lived out their lives in the same brutish struggle, clubbing and throwing rocks for survival. But language and thought and wisdom have brought us to a state of civilization in which even kindergarteners learn to share, take turns, and get their needs met without violence. Yet there remain the wooden-headed few who, perhaps frustrated by having been thwarted from their aims in kindergarten, insist upon re-asserting the right of the violent to dominate when they reach the age of enlistment or conscription. As if throwing rocks were OK if the rocks were technically “cool,” or the throwers involved precision electronics or night-vision goggles. A rock-throwing ape is still a rock-throwing ape; even if you elect him president.
Anyway, I didn’t think either the squirrel or my host had the linguistic depth to appreciate any lofty notion as effete as “irony,” so I didn’t confront either of them with it. I just quietly quit the party early; maybe he noticed our departure when he was done shooting, and maybe he didn’t.