199 – Beautiful and Horrific …

As a species, our history is both beautiful and horrific.

Of all the animals on Earth that we know of, the human animal is the only one capable of reaching the most extreme opposites in the spectrum of behaviors: We can be intelligent, thoughtful, creative, altruistic, compassionate, wise, gentle, excruciatingly beautiful. And we can be greedy, selfish, intolerant, destructive, corrupt, barbarous, cruel, deceitful, grotesquely oblivious to our own monstrosities.

I believe it is extremely important in our education to acknowledge both sides … the beautiful and the horrific in us; the terrifying reaches of our inhumanity and the beautiful summits of our humanity … together they tell us how we have come to be what we are.

From a chimp-like humanoid to the evolving creature we call Homo Sapiens, we have adapted to every habitable niche on the surface of the planet; we have learned to manage the resources of the Earth to feed our exploding population growth; we have overcome the limitations of our organic senses to explore the immensity of the universe and the microscopic world of the atomic particles; we have evolved sophisticated languages to talk about life, love, wisdom, happiness;  we have the capacity to reach extraordinary heights of altruism during catastrophic events; we have developed amazingly complex technologies to create, among other things, a hand-held gadget that connects us with the rest of us; we have become aware of the amazing beauty of our own awareness.

But we have allowed greed to become the driving force behind our economic, religious, and political paradigms. A selfish, reckless greed for power and possessions that has overtaken us, blinding us to such levels of irrationality that knowingly, we … the most thoughtful, creative, altruistic, compassionate, wise, gentle, excruciatingly beautiful animal on Earth … send millions of us into abject poverty and desperation, and we, with full knowledge of what we are doing, devise weaponry capable of wiping life off the face of the Earth.

Most behaviors that drive us to commit horrible things … selfishness, blindness, intolerance, corruption, destructiveness, cruelty, deceitfulness … stem from our greed. Recognizing this may be a first step in understanding why we, Homo Sapiens (wise!!!), have come to create a world where in the midst of obscene wealth millions die of starvation; a world where the profits of the war machine are of more consequence than the millions killed by the ravages of manufactured conflict; a world where the horrors committed in the name of greed make it difficult for us to see how beautiful we are.

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