Update: May 2011 – Hey, if you like my writing, you should check out my new website: Sustainable Diversity with fresh new and more in depth material!
I have a confession to make:
I don’t understand people.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Spencer Tunick before. He happens to be the man who clicked the camera creating the above picture. Believe it or not this man has made himself internationally known because he takes pictures of people… naked. You might make the inaccurate assumption that the reason why I don’t understand people is because they are willing to take such eccentric photos or even make a profit off of them. That is not the case.
Let me explain something. I’ve narrowed it down to 3 things that I really don’t understand in life. That’s right- only three.
The first thing I don’t understand is the Universe. Since my childhood I’d look up at the stars and let my awe slowly take grip at such sublime distance. Certainly it is hard to give a sincere argument on why you should exist in such an eclipsing vastness. And even today with science pushing the boundaries on understanding, the Universe still escapes meaning. It happens to be the place we exist in, and it happens to also be very large, and with current technology it also happens to be a very lifeless place which does little for our mood. However there is potential hope for life elsewhere, but even if there was, so what? It still does not answer the “why?” of the Universe. This topic will be explored in a different entry.
The second thing I don’t understand is life. Life is about the most incomprehensible thing there is. While the Universe dishes out the laws, it wouldn’t matter this way or that if there wasn’t a sentient being somewhere to follow them. Sure- the elements would still be smashed and stars would still be nuclear furnaces but if there was no life there would be no recognition of this. Rocks, dust, and elements do not have feelings, no matter how baseline, on the matters of the Universe. A deer however still becomes desperate in a lifeless winter, a plant cranes its body just for a taste of sunlight. Life will also receive its own entry.
The third and final thing I don’t understand is PEOPLE. Let’s pretend for a moment that we can start to get our heads around life. The one thing I do understand about people is we have the ability to recognize patterns in a way that no other being on this Earth can. With this skill we are able to make some relatively fair assumptions about life (without the element of people involved).
Life is diverse. Life is mutually beneficial. Life largely depends on both the diversity as well as other life.
Whether it’s the bees working together with the flowers or those fish who suck the scum off of whales, life is not only diverse but it works together for a mutual gain in any situation where two forms live around each other for a fair amount of time. The birds use trees for their nests, the trees use soil for their nutrients, the worms pound soil to loosen and fertilize it.
We know this as the circle of life, wildly popularized by Disney’s film The Lion King (come on- you remember the booming rush you felt when Simba was raised up over the savanna.) The reason for this circle seems logically obvious. The Universe, remember, is unforgiving when his laws are broken so life collaborates with each other for survival under the oppressive Universe. However, when life seems to follows the rules of the Universe, they have the ability to flourish under the right conditions. Earth has enough autonomy against the government of the Universe to create a very special enclave of being collectively known as life. The Universe allows the Earth to make unique conditions that make it possible to thrive where elsewhere in the Universe life would quickly parish… say… 10 miles up for example. So under these conditions life comes up and obeys the very special rules that was created ultimately by the Universe but exclusively the Earth. Life understands to some extent that working collaboratively is useful for mutual survival.
At this point someone might have the idea of Simba running through the savanna and mowing down a gazelle, not just any gazelle, but a baby gazelle. And when Simba grabs it by its neck it only punctures a hole in its throat making it harder to breath, tripping and breaking its leg as Simba tumbles over it and slashes its face open and immediately feasts. That, one might argue, is not very collaborative. And because of the laws of the Universe sometimes life has to act harshly towards each other because life requires life to survive. However Simba will not hunt down a gazelle’s whole family or whole herd and kill them all. On some level the lion understands that if he does that there will be no more gazelles. Many predators leave their prey unharmed if they are not hungry. Diversity is important for every species on this planet and if any species comes along and becomes invasive, the diversity enables the invasion to be only a limited range and easily combative. Having only one type of ecosystem will be much more harshly affected by an invasive species than a diverse environment. This is because there is a higher level that the invasive species will meet a predator who has followed the rules of the Universe in such a way that they are the “rock” to the invasive species “scissors” in our game of life rocks-papers-scissors. An invasive species in a uniformed environment would be like a world of only paper that a pair of scissors found.
Now let’s step out of the abstract and compare these rules of life to humans:
Humans don’t want diversity, they marginally take account of the fact that other species are competing for some land on this planet, and they are always willing to sacrifice more life for some more convenience.
Imagine yourself an alien with the capability to travel through space. Let’s pretend you’re a relatively reasonable alien in my terms and you are searching out other planets to meet new life forms for both scientific and spiritual reasons because understanding why life works the way it does on other planets surely gives you more insight on it than just studying it on your own. Now let’s pretend you find the planet Earth in the 1930s and as you scan the ground you happen to notice this going on. Perhaps the war going on in other parts of the world. Would you want to risk stopping? Probably not.
Humans, apparently, decide it’s okay to just spend an uncountable amount of time unifying everything even if it comes to torture and unnecessary death. Nowhere else on this planet do you see life preying upon life in a genocidal rage. Nowhere on this planet do you see a species as divisive as ours. While the preying mantis may eat the head of its mate, it seems ritualistic, even expected. Mankind wars at expense of everything.
Mankind is constantly encroaching on more and more species land endangering and even killing off species as they go. While the argument goes, Species are always being created or becoming extinct, we are the cause for many of these extinctions (which I will prove at some point I’m sure) but more importantly it shows no signs of stopping, but in fact speeding up. The human population is growing at an exponential rate which ultimately means we will reach a point where there are too many people to inhabit the planet sustainably. This is just using the simple math… there are going to be too many people one day to where it’s a problem. This fact is ignored completely… even though some may argue that time has already come.
This is important because it goes back to the idea that life depends on diversity to survive… but mankind, for some reason, has actually no desire for diversity at all. This is obvious when it comes to organized religion. The friction between most major religions is explosive and it is amazing how so many people are dead sure about something nobody has any serious proof about. In fact the idea of creating a diverse ecosystem is eclipsed by the idea that mankind was actually put upon this Earth as a divine species above all others. While it’s easy to see the material benefits that we flaunt, emotionally our species is a wreck. We are so desperate many of us will cling to a religion just because it’s comfortable being right and surrounding yourself with others who think the same thing and not actually questioning some very foundational principles.
“Jesus born of a virgin?” asks the alien from space.
“This book, this book tells it all.”
“How do you know this book is true?” the alien asks curiously.
“It isn’t true!” declares the Muslim, “Well not all of it… there was another that came after Jesus, he had God’s final words.”
“God? What’s God?” the alien asks amazed.
“He is the creator of all things. He communicated to us through this book.”
“How do you know?”
“This book tells us.”
Circular reasoning! A-ha! I knew it. Aside from all the conflicting views all of them come down to circular reasoning no matter how hard they believe their religious writings are fact. The skit could’ve been longer adding in the Hindu’s belief of multiple God’s, the Buddhist’s explaining how Buddha intertwined with it, all conflicting and stubbornly unresolved. The alien will cringe at the sound of harsh retribution he will face either in this life or the next if he doesn’t adhere to any single one of them. Quickly the alien would fly off warning others to avoid Earth because it is an Asylum for an insane race of species.
Looking in to history there is not another single species that had the hubris to create what we have created. Now with saying all of the negative above I am a largely positive person and I recognize and admire many of the beautiful and helpful things that humans do. It is a paradox how humans can be both so coldly evil and extraordinarily amazing. We possess the ability to be more compassionate than any other being on this Earth. And this is why humans demand to be looked at as individuals because each has their own ideas on how they are going to carve the world around them to his or her pleasure. The reason why I am focused on this negative aspect of the human race is because it is the race in which I belong to. It is a problem that has cursed man since the creation of civilization about 10,000 years ago. It was as if mankind really did make a pact with the devil, perhaps he met a witch somewhere which gave him magical powers with a curse, or perhaps a genie with a trick, or a gift granted by Dionysus himself as King Midas did.
As suspected King Midas looks pretty bummed (picture right). This is because this is a classic story that illustrates that material wealth isn’t the only or most important thing in our lives. Perhaps if King Midas stayed reasonable he would’ve understood that this would effect the things he ate as well as people he loved. The civilized world is very materialized and everything from plates to skyscrapers could be considered part of the “everything we touch turns to Gold” wish. Mankind is perhaps not looking at how his material wealth will effect his family’s drinking water or a family he loves. Perhaps he is not thinking about how thinking of animals as product that needs a marginalized economic cost will effect what eating it will do to your body. Mad cow disease, growth hormones, biogenetics… perhaps issues more worthy of addressing than gay rights?
So basically many of these entries to come will be about people.
I will be focusing on issues such as:
How is the exponential population increase effecting the world at large?
Why does mankind seem to be the only species that is divisive enough to wage war on itself?
Why does mankind have a tendency to value life so little?
Why is organized religion so important for people when each provides as little proof as the next?
Why do people often turn to corruption once in positions of power?
In what way does civilization play a role in all this seeing as this was not a problem for the human race until civilization came to be?
Where is mankind harming or disregarding life?
Where is mankind being divisive and oppressive?
Where is mankind corrupt? (these questions are fair and important and shall be provided)
Why can mankind be so compassionate and cold?
Why is mankind not following the age-old diversity-works theory? (it survived a meteor!)
Why is mankind so proud of his material possessions and so curt with his life providing gifts?
What role does mankind play in the Universe?
Why does mankind disassociate itself so much from the rest of life? (Club Exclusive)
…And other questions of similarity.
This article was largely abstract and it was meant to be. This is why I’m interested in people. This is why I don’t understand them. I bolded the three things I didn’t understand a lot to show how one, in effect, relates a lot with the other. People are certainly still bound to the Universe’s rules, as we are to Life’s as well. This is why while this article focused on people in comparison to life, I was focusing on the understandable aspects of life. The things I don’t understand about life will be focused on in a separate article. So all three of these parts are very related but each are missing pieces of the puzzle.
These big questions aren’t going to always be this abstract. This was mostly to explain the analytical direction in which I’m looking at people. I’m attempting to be as culturally open and accepting as I can be to understand the chasms between them but perhaps find a place within each to build bridges. Perhaps some reasonable philosophy about humans… by humans… can be created. We can go on a naturally fair hunch that people can use reason and compassion at the same time without being so hopeless as to need a potentially fictional being to guide them (God, Jesus). I am not being demeaning when I “insult” religions by calling them potentially fictional. It’s nothing personal… it’s just the proof just isn’t there! And mankind’s drunken desire to unify everything is… so I’m afraid I’m reasonably going to assume that there is something in mankind that desires to unify everything which is the root of all of these religions. A desire to unify. I am even trying to unify life, people, and the Universe openly on this site (I am not immune)… but I want to do it in a way that doesn’t make evil enemies. Acting on your intense desire to unify is a good thing and I encourage it, but don’t become too intoxicated by it that you stop seeing people as people… and you see them as something you can torture, kill, ruin… even without knowing their name.
Things such as the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, the Second Congolese War… there are no innocent hands in these situations. Taxpayers, to soldiers, to presidents, to dictators, to proper citizens, to improper citizens… nobody is entirely guilty either. What is certain is nobody is going to lay down and accept the guilt unless forced. And even when that happens it is a pathetic shell of the truth. Many refuse to ask and solve the question “What could I do in my life to make this better for myself and everyone else?”
I’m going to assume this is an unnaturally long and perhaps dry entry. However I can not go in to what I am going to do with this site without laying down the complicated, yet tedious task as to why I’m doing it. People seriously amaze and stun me! And I don’t understand them. I understand perfectly well the desire to want to create art of mankind in his and her natural body form. We are the only animal who puts on clothes, every other animal is as naked as everyone in Tunick’s pictures. In fact, maybe now you can look at one of his pictures a little more seriously now. Hundred’s of people breaking free of their bonds but still surrounded by their world of King Midas gold.