People Suck – or at least that’s what I hear from; friends, coworkers, folks I randomly eavesdrop on in public, and of course, Bill Hicks. It makes me wonder, is this some original-sin type of self-loathing, or a me-against-the-world kinda hyper-elitism? Are these men, woman, and children admitting they too are a people, and that they do indeed suck? Or are they saying that it’s everyone else who’s doing all the sucking?
When I was younger I was sure the whole world was out get me, and that I probably deserved it. So I guess it was a little of Column A and a bit of Column B. Ah, angsty youth, I remember you neither fondly, nor well. Because of this I now often find myself volunteering with ‘troubled youth.’ Victimized youth is most often the case. So I spend a few days every month hip-deep in the horrors that some members of our species do to the most vulnerable. I’ve heard stories and seen scars that have turned my old, jaded, blood to ice. I almost never share these accounts with anyone who hasn’t chosen this path; on occasion though, I have lightened my soul and let a little of the weight of these stories escape. I always immediately regret darkening those I care about’s thoughts.
“Ya see, that’s why I hate people” they say, and usually follow it up with something like, “That’s why I like animals better.”
I know no one wants to believe this but, humans might be the nicest animals on the planet. Yes, yes, I know, animals have never fucked you over the way humans have. But that’s only because you’ve imprinted yourself on them as their alpha. If you were smaller than your kitty, it would slowly torture you to death for its own amusement. Much the way your pooch would, right before it rolled around in your entrails. You know, the way they do with just about anything weaker than themselves. Not for food, just for fun.
Ducks rape, not occasionally, just about every time they mate. Different tribes of chimpanzees wage war on each other. Dolphins torture and kill other creatures with their prehensile penises. Every animal that over-populates has devastating effects on its ecosystem, so much so that if things ever get back to the way they were before it only comes at the price of a mass die-off. Otters sexually assault and drown each other, and baby seals… and continue humping for up to a week after they’ve killed the poor things. Penguins also take advantage of wounded females, little ones fallen away from their parents, and corpses. Whenever an old lion that had fathered a baby dies, a new alpha will come in and eat that cub so its mother will go into heat. The mother will then mate with that new young stud, while his breath still stinks of her child. Bunnies will often eat the runts of their litter because even the cutest vegetarians are really just opportunistic carnivores waiting for something weak enough for them to slaughter.
I’m sure if we search we could find instances of us human-animals doing some of these things, but that’s my point, we would have to search. It’s not the norm, it’s the exception.
One of the reasons we like to think humans are evil is because we see it on the news, which broadcasts all the wickedest shit from all over the world right into our brain-meats. Constantly. But that’s not what life is like. Go look out your window. That is life. Things that are common are not news. News, by its very definition, is what is rare. Dying of old age, babies being born, people not being assholes to each other, and animals doing things that people would be executed for, these are not news. A human behaving like an animal to another animal, human or otherwise, now that’s news.
Yes, we’ve all been fucked over by members of our own species, but we will physically interact with tens, and tens, and tens, of thousands people in our lives. Is the number who’ve done us wrong really a high enough percentage to justify discriminating against the entirety of humanity?
Some obviously feel the answer is yes. Which sorta makes sense, because we too are animals, and as such it’s still easy for us to fall victim to our old hard-wiring.
I think we all know that our monkey-nature is still alive and well deep inside us and often finds itself at odds with the modern world. Our fight/flight/freeze response, which was meant to protect us from saber-toothed-tigers, now goes off every time we hear the phrase, “we need to talk.” We get depressed because our bodies were never meant to sit for 8 hours at work, then for 8 more at home before going to bed. A similar reminder that we’re still just naked apes is the leftover survival mechanism called Negative Bias.
The Negative Bias is pretty much exactly as it sounds, we are biased towards the negative. We give the bad things that happen more weight than the good, so it’s the unpleasantness of life that sticks out. This came in handy when we were trying to survive in the jungles; if we got sick or hurt that memory glowed bright so we learned to prejudice ourselves against those things. Now that we live in a world made so safe that almost all of us get to die of natural causes, the Negative Bias is just the thing that makes us judge billions and billions of people by the few bad apples we’ve met, seen on the news, or just heard about.
People suck – only if we let the fuck-ups mean more to us than the people we’ve known who’ve been slashed splitting up cat or dog fights, or have risked their lives going on thin ice to save stuck animals. Or those who’ve used eyedroppers to feed runts pushed out to starve by their mothers. Or just the people close to us we take for granted because our negative bias comes so naturally.
The thing that separates us from other animals though, is that we can learn these things about ourselves and not let them control us.