A coworker and friend sent me this text. He pulled it from another blog. This speaks some great truths.
From John Aspinall’s “The Best of Friends” (1976):
Man’s contempt for animals precludes him from accepting the validity of primate studies in relation to himself, and he shies at any inferences that can be drawn from them. Unfortunately nearly every human is subject to the relentless propaganda of language. It is with us from our earliest years and leaves an indelible weal on our psyche. The very words as we learn them conspire to defraud us of our judgement. Bestial, Beastly, Brutish, Brutal, can be compared to Humane, Manly, etc. There are hundreds of idioms in the English language which refer to animals. Nearly all of them are derogatory or pejorative in implication. To say that a man ‘behaves like an animal’ is to imply mindless violence, and is often used by judges when summing up in a criminal trial. The ‘law of the jungle—red in tooth and claw’ suggests shameless chaos and ferocity. THE REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT. Mindless violence and shameless chaos are most in evidence among humans. I have spent many months in jungles and have always been impressed by the beauty and justice of the forest regimen. Violence if it does surface is mindful and infrequent, and chaos unknown—that is until man’s incursion, when of course all is changed. ‘Nature, whose sweet rains fall on just and unjust alike’, has much to teach those who are willing to learn….
This excerpt is from Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan’s “Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (1992):
We go to great lengths to deny our animal heritage, and not just in scientific and philosophical discourse. You can glimpse the denial in the shaving of men’s faces; in clothing and other adornments; in the great lengths gone to in the preparation of meat to disguise the fact that an animal is killed, flayed, and eaten.... The common primate practice of pseudosexual mounting of males by males to express dominance is not widespread in humans, and some have taken comfort from this fact. But the most potent form of verbal abuse in English and many other languages is “Fuck you,” with the pronoun “I” implicit at the beginning. The speaker is vividly asserting his claim to higher status, and his contempt for those he considers subordinate. Characteristically, humans have converted a postural image into a linguistic one with barely a change in nuance. The phrase is uttered millions of times each day, all over the planet, with hardly anyone stopping to think what it means. Often, it escapes our lips unbidden. It is satisfying to say. It serves its purpose. It is a badge of the primate order, revealing something of our nature despite all our denials and pretensions.
What is odd about this point of view—apart from the notion that criminals and sociopaths really take heart from the scientific finding that humans have evolved from other animals—is how selectively it makes contact with the data about animals and, especially, about our closest relatives, the primates. There we can also find friendship, altruism, love, fidelity, courage, intelligence, invention, curiosity, forethought, and a host of other characteristics that we humans should be glad to have in greater measure. Those who deny or decry our “animal” natures underestimate what those natures are. Isn’t there much to be proud of, as well as ashamed of, in the lives of the monkeys and apes? Shouldn’t we be glad to acknowledge a connection with Imo, Lucy, Sultan, Leakey, and Kanzi? Remember those macaques who would rather go hungry than profit from harming their fellows; might we have a more optimistic view of the human future if we were sure our ethics were up to their standards?