Momento Animalis

Gorilla, Monkey, Primate, Animal, Portrait, Face

Hey Gang!

I recently came across the Non-Human Rights Project (NhRP). Essentially they are proposing we treat animals such as elephants, wales, dolphins and, most notably, chimpanzees as “persons”. Steve Wise, founder of NhRP, made it his mission to treat them as civil cases much like the women’s rights, civil rights, and gay marriage movements. It isn’t quite the same, of course, as he isn’t saying the personhood for animals is at the same level as the previously mentioned, but he is saying that we have different concepts of what a right is and those groups eventually found legal rights in America.

It’s funny to me that this search is even a search. I think his argument should be pushed through but probably not for the reason you think. You see, I, of course, have empathy for chimps and other animals great and small, however, I also see that we are all animals.

I have this quirky thing I do sometimes. Unfortunately, I am going to make you step into my head.

Picture this:

You walk down the street and there are animals everywhere. Chimpanzees skulk along busy sidewalks as they chip and chirp to one another. They stop into small stores and grab a bite. The smell of exhaust permeates your senses and they drive through the busy metropolitan streets that other chimpanzees built by sheer mental fortitude.

You walk further down the street and look down an alley. There, in the darkened hall of brick and mortar are two chimpanzees brutally assaulting another. It feels barbaric and you want to stop it but the sheer brutality of it makes you realize how much of an animal they really are. How uncivilized they are. You run away. You cross street after street as you try to forget the tableau of violence you stumbled upon and end up at a small park. You see chimpanzees roaming around. They crawl up trees and down them. They run openly in the park. A chimpanzee sits on the black, metal bench across from you. In her black fur covered arms, two small brown eyes blink back at you. She begins breast feeding the small chimpanzee. She looks at the baby with delight. Her eyes are large and round with a watery glisten to them as she looks at her tiny progeny.

You look down at your feet and, when you look up, you are surrounded by monolithic grey creatures. Their tusks jut out in front of them and their trunks sway back and forth. You’re in a grassy area surrounded by tombstones. In front of you is a small mound about the size of you. A tombstone just behind the dirt mound says the elephant died at the age of two. You see them walk in time as the elephants’ trumpeting trunks scream into the darkened sky. They circle the grave shaking their heads back and forth crying out in emotional pain. They’ve lost something. They’ve lost someone.

You’re back. You’re reading this and wondering why I’m juxtaposing these things.

What makes you a person? If you think it’s because your part of a community, you’re right. So are they. If it’s because you think and feel, so do they. If you think it’s because you speak and articulate, so do they.

I only spoke of this, not to show you how close to humans they are, but to remind you of the animal that YOU are. We are animals navigating the world. We give meaning to society because it’s a natural thing to do in the animal kingdom. Insanity is defined by Miriam – Webster as extreme foolishness or irrationality. We share over 99% of our genes with Chimpanzees and yet we cage them. We cage our own creatures because we fear them. In Africa, Human Zoos were quite common just a century ago. These dark skinned people looked so odd and different. They dressed strangely and worshipped different gods. They were lesser. It’s archaic to say that now and even more so to imagine it happening again. Creatures caged simply for the oddity of existing.

We make laws not meant for protecting them as entities but as things.

How can one thing hold so much over another. If they’re “things” then so are we. Look at how similar we are in “thingness”.

Replace the city street scene with humans. Is that brutality still animalistic or is it just “human nature”? Is it a mother feeding her child or is it indecency? Is it a funeral or are they just upset animals?

I could show so much more here of how we are nothing but animals who out number most semi-large mammals and how we are ruining the planet for the others.

In the end, this whole post was meant to do one thing. It was to show you that you, an ape, can read what another ape wrote. That communication is happening and you understand me much like every other animal on earth understands those within their own species.

This is your reminder that you are part of something bigger in this world.

Remember that you traverse the same ecosystem as every other creature and you are just as fragile.

Remember how it feels to lose another human creature. Then think of other animals’ losses and how much they feel.

Remember, when you stroll through the zoo, that you share 50% of your genes with every creature there. Expand that to every living creature on earth. One creature looking back at another.

Remember why you have hair all over you and why your teeth are structured the way they are and why you have opposable thumbs and why you still have a tail bone.

This is your reminder.

This is your memento animalis.

The Modern Ape

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Hey Gang!

There are three things that one must accept in this world. 1. Sharks are the perfect predators, swim accordingly; 2. Dolphins are able to notice their own reflections, one of two which includes humans.; 3. We are, be you creationist or evolutionist or evolution-creationists, all just animals. We are beautiful, flawed creatures that are incredibly close to the things around us. We go to higher education and think that that somehow makes us better off than the box jellyfish. This fact is actually quite amusing because, take away all of those niceties that we take for granted: shelter, electricity, friends and family; what you are left with is the complete sense that you are alone.

You are not alone.

FACT: Eating a banana is 50% cannibalism as we share about 50% of our DNA with the banana, which is actually a berry.

I bring this up because the other day I remembered something that I had forgot long ago. A simple theory that Nate and myself made years ago, when we were in our teens. I was reminded of it when I was at my desk, wholly frustrated with a project i was doing. Whenever I get frustrated, I play with my Rubik’s cube. I never really have the goal of solving the puzzle. For me, it is about the ability to clearly think one one thing. There is nothing more than the rotating, oscillating form in front of me. So, I almost jumped out of my seat when a deep, kind voice said, “There’s a video for that you know.”

I turned around and saw a lanky, tall man I knew to be a professor staring down at me with amused eyes. I laughed and said, “Yeah, no one will ever solve this thing.” (I say this in reference to an old film called “The Wedding Singer”, it does not compute).

“Yes, they have. I think there is a way to solve it,” he said as he pointed to my computer.

He truly meant to look it up. So, I appeased. We found a video with step-by-step directions and i must admit, the puzzle made sense. He laughed and I finally realized how stupid I felt. THE MAN HAD SOLVED IT MANY TIMES BEFORE! He knew how to solve it and basically walked me through the steps like a small child trying to learn how to ride the bike.

I was insulted and yet, I was elated.

I felt a jolt of excitement. He left but I started looking at the puzzle in a different way. It started to make sense.

FACT: Orcas have an additional portion on their brain that allows for the feeling of more emotions than humans.

A few moments later and I realized this feeling. It was primal. I am guessing this is how humans felt when Prometheus brought them fire. I realized, however, that my demeanor must have seemed archaic to someone who knew the puzzle. The design was there in front of them and I was this grand creature twisting and turning the pieces aimlessly. It must have been a funny sight. I felt like an ape who had just started to figure out what good a tool a club was.

I laughed pretty hard at that as I thought of myself like an ape making calls and hunched over on the ground. I imagined myself grunting at the puzzle when it did not turn out how I wanted it to.

This is when I remembered the theory of “Angry Hot”.

FACT: We too were once single celled organisms, for about half an hour, much like the Gromia sphaerica, or amoeba.

Nate and I contended that there are women out there so hot that it would actually cause you to go into a frenzy. So, attractive were these women that it caused men to go primal. This was a thought process of two 17 year olds but there is actually a precedent. Women are, in evolutionary theory, able to make men more primal. There is a hip to waist ration that women have (.07) that causes men to find them more fertile. The primal act of mating takes over and you get a truly attractive person eliciting a response from another animal. So, “Angry Hot” can happen when other males are around to contest the attention of the female. 

Are you bored yet?

Listen, all I am saying is, we truly are close to that primal self. The one that kept us alive in the cold winters and scorching summers. We are still animals.

FACT: We are made of carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms. Hydrogen and helium began our universe, followed by carbon and then a supernova occured and spread out these elements. Every creature on earth has elements of these basic natures. Zinc, iron and more. These make us up and were brought to us by an exploding star. Thus, every creature on this planet is made of stars.

Animals, we are animals. We breath and we fight and we make tools. We do these things and we see ourselves as better than other animals. Yet, I am an animal, as are you. We are all animals yet we have no communal sense. Why hurt this animal or that animal? Why get pleasure out of pain? Why pass by a homeless person in need of help? Why hate another person for their beliefs, values, skin color, or disabilities? Why do all of these things to better your life? That is like poison for a species as amazing as the ones on this planet.

Be animals, not beasts.

We are animals but we, every entity from the cold-blooded to the warm-blooded to the photosynthetic, are made of the same things that bind us together.

Us modern apes, we are all made of stars.

 

-Chris

PS- Good to be back! Hope you enjoyed it!