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The Kindly Ape

June 20, 2011

Why men?

Why did a certain batch of primates among many make the leap to humanity? How did these root-grubbing prey change their destiny, become hunters rather than prey?  Become feared instead of fearful?

Some people whomped up the notion, after we became able to speculate, that our unique station came because we were made special, in the image of a holy and supernatural personality who sudden decided to do so, just for fun I guess.  And we began the classifying that has lead us to today’s idiocies like thinking that people who drive hybrids are better and smarter than those with an eight cylinder Ramcharger for their ride.

And the killer ape business, courtesy of Mr. Dart, has ridden high for years and years and continues today.  To the animal rights people this is holy writ.  The basic idea is that we won out over the other species because we are more murderous and bloodthirsty than the demons of hell and all other beasts withered before our pure evil like snow when the furnace door is thrown wide.

This line of thinking comes, I believe, from the absurd notion of original sin (damn you St. Augustine) which proclaims that all men are born evil and only a lifetime of groveling will make us acceptable to God.  What sort of mind comes up with this stuff?  What demons rattled around in those skulls?  Let’s all go to the nearest hospital nursery and beat the evil out of those little sin pots.

This  mindset, this insane way of thinking is not just wrong, it is the exact opposite of reality.  The truth is we so surpassed our fellow earthlings because we take care of each other in a way unique in the animal world.  We are the caring ape.  No pack of wolves or pod of whales or troop of monkeys care so much for each other as we do.  No other species is as eager to help as are we.

I have come to this conclusion after long years of self-hatred, both of myself and my species, resulting from growing up in racial oppression, hatred and ignorance and ending my childhood in uniform during a nasty little war.  My favorite job ever was working in a vet’s kennel.  I don’t know that I like dogs better than humans, but I certainly get along with them better.  Most of my life I was a human-hating beast lover who never let any opportunity to damn man go to waste.  I was wrong.

Life has proved me a fool.  Living among men aboard ship, in barracks, in the field, in brothels and bars and halfway houses on both coasts and in the middle, in this country and others has forced me, much against my will, to admit the reality that appears before me without dogma or religion or politics, which is that most people are doing the best they can.  And they do the best for their fellows that they can.

A TV ad ran a year ago saying that 99 percent of people run away from disaster.  That’s not true.  Ninety nine percent of people run toward a disaster wanting to help.  People blame the ‘gawking effect’ on perverts wanting to see blood and guts.  I now think it’s caused by concern for the victims.  This ‘evil man’ attitude has poisoned our thinking for so long that virtually every human function is tainted with its small-minded meanness.  It fuels Republican, conservative and religious philosophy.

As I said life has taught me this, not some spiritual inspiration or sudden attack of Disney thought.  When you ask for help you usually get it and it’s not because some preacher or God demands it.  It’s in the genes.

It the way humans are.

People who find themselves in isolated groups immediately begin setting up systems for the good of the group and to care for the needy.  If we were as the killer ape people claim, the human thing to do would be to kill all the others, eat them and steal their wallets.

Religion, science, philosophy, all are muddled by this fantastic notion and our tragic impulse to measure ourselves by our aberrations.  Crime, rape, murder are rarities.  War is not the norm.  The vast, vast majority of people live quietly wishing everyone the best.  All the evils, cruelty and atrocities we hate are real, but they are not the reality.  They are the scum atop the pool.  Scrape it aside and there is cool, clear water underneath.

Not the killer ape; the altruistic ape.

 

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