Politics & Activism, Zen & Dharma

In defense of my species

evolutionHello dear Bicycle Buddhistas – apologies for my sparseness in posting over the past few months. Simply being at Upaya, plus preparing for jukai, has been mopping up all my “free” time. I vow to get back to semi-regular blogging soon. But for the moment, here’s a piece i wrote for a nifty project called Global Chorus. Enjoy! And comment, if you will.  Please and thank you for your patience. -Carmen

I have had it with people shit-talking my species.

Listen up: humans are no more greedy or evil than any other critter. Just like dogs or whales or paramecia or tomato plants, we just want to be warm, well-fed, and well-laid. In a word, we want to be ‘happy’. Most especially we want to get laid, because we are motivated to perpetuate our precious DNA above all. This is hard-wired survival instinct, and to this end, like all animals, we will tend to feed and breed until our population reaches carrying capacity—at which point, we execute a dramatic mass die-off, and the cycle begins again.

It’s not a very pretty pattern, and we’re not more worthy of survival than any other beast—but. Neither are we execrable slime who ‘deserve’ to be wiped from the planet.

In spite of our careless behavior we mean well, and even when we act just as crudely as our fellow carbon-based life-forms, heaping insults on poor homo sapiens will not help to address the perilous global situation.

We hairless primates are unique among animals in this: we have the capacity to act for the greater good, even if such actions might be painful or inconvenient. We have somehow managed to develop these huge frontal lobes, and in the face of the next great wave of extinction, we might just be able to use them to override self-destructive animal behavior. We are starting to reject the ancient biological imperative to care only about our own blood and tribe. We are shutting down nuclear plants, feeding hungry strangers, and deciding to take a pass on procreation. That’s a new thing. You won’t see dogs or amoebas doing that.

We are very clever critters indeed, and I figure, if we were smart enough to get ourselves into this mess then we might be smart enough to get us out of it. What are the odds? Who knows? The odds of a fish crawling out of the ocean were pretty slim too. But there is no time to be wasted in working out the numbers—we either do something, or we do nothing. The Doing Something camp is where the most fun people seem to be hanging out.

So I say, let’s shake off the ashes of species-self-loathing and get our collective ass in gear. It is time to stand by our species.


Image by Barabente, borrowed from  www.fromquarkstoquasars.com    

6 Comments on “In defense of my species

  1. The challenges in front of us create two vast opportunities. The first is to be an exemplary human. We can choose how we respond to situations, at least what sort of thinking pattern we cultivate. Can I see right through my dualistic clinging and use that limiting perspective instead as a lens to open my vision to, yes, the boundless fabric of interdependence, how things arise and pass away: individuals, tribes, species, planets, universes!

    Then, stepping out from that place of freedom, how can I bring that commitment to truth, to mindfulness, to letting go of self-indulgent ignorance as it arises, how can I bring this spirit to my community? Hard to say about humanity as a whole, but person by person, our teachers show us what we can be… making that real is more important than ever!

  2. Ah, compassion. Even for ourselves. Or for that portion of “ourselves” we call human. Compassion is a good place to start. And if we can bring it “home” then perhaps it root and grow.

  3. Carmen, I wish I shared your optimism, but I see this human thing as much more self destructive, to ourselves and the balance of existing species. I am 60, I see the change. If only everyone could walk the eightfold path…….

  4. If I understand you correctly your equating getting laid with love and intimacy. Now personally as I saw 70 many pedal rotations ago , being single I’ve kind of given up on that side of the human experience. Which leaves another type of intimacy . I suppose for me having produced two offspring , or should I say initiated them, the act of procreation ,as far as nature is concerned , has been done. So when I’m with someone I find attractive I can just enjoy without any expectations, at least that’s the theory . It seems to work most of the time , though the feeling of being alone will always be around some of the time. Being critical of others is the thing that makes me feel isolated.

  5. I am not “optimistic”! Nor am I pessimistic. Optimism and pessimism are fantasies – realism is where it’s at. I am just trying to perceive how things are right now, and act accordingly. I don’t know what is “going to happen” – do you?

    Yes, humanity is certainly doomed, as are the coral reefs and the polar bears – and the planet. It has all been doomed since day 1, Such is the nature of all things. So, on with it!

  6. Carmen,

    As ever, I value your own brand of Do Something.

    Yes. Even if we go out, I’d rather go out having loving compassion for myself and others; and who knows, that one extra person we touch with this love may be the one in the end that tips the balance. Of course we’re doomed, as all life is, but it really counts how we live our lives and how we see and treat ourselves and each other.

    Then maybe we have a greater chance of holding out possibility for each other and our fellow living creatures, and gettin’ er done.

    We are good, marvels and capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. Hurrah! And Yeah, the Do Something Camp is pretty damn great. I love my visits there – I get very excited, and I cry and I laugh and I shake.

    I love you.

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