Some people think we are being watched and cared for. Consider these verses from the Bible (Matthew 10:29-31):
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them shall fall to the ground outside your Father’s knowledge. Even the hairs of your head have all been numbered. Do not be afraid; you are more important than many sparrows.
Nobody has ever tried to sell me a sparrow, but that's probably not the point of this verse. What is its point? It appears to say that we're special to God — more so than a bunch of birds, anyway.
What a strange assessment of reality! Think of the millions of lives that could have been saved during the last century if a creator god had simply lit up the heavens with a giant sign that said, “Hey, stop all that fighting, silly humans!” Consider how many millions more would have been saved if the first chapter of the Bible included these words:
And God did then create invisibly tiny creatures that could make people sick unto death unless the water in which they lived was boiled for the duration of five hundreds of heartbeats.
Maybe that verse didn't make it past the final edit.
The whole idea that we're special doesn't hold water. Unlike a sparrow, that theory doesn't fly. A theory that makes far more sense is the one that says we are animals that descended from some kind of ape.
As the photo montage above shows, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that I came from something vaguely simian.
For some reason I want a banana.
In any case, deep down within me there's a strange sense that the universe will prevent us from destroying ourselves. I have no good reason to believe that, apart from the fact that we've had the ability for several decades and haven't done so yet.
That deep-down feeling is almost certainly wrong. It is probably akin to the feeling that, throughout history, has made it possible for soldiers to cope, even though all their comrades are being cut down. “It can't happen to me.”
They deeply believe that they're special!
Life isn't consistently atrocious, of course. If I'm open to the good nature of my fellow hairless apes, I usually find that things work out well. When we humans have the chance, we're really good at being what we evolved to be: social creatures.
That doesn't make us special, though. Lots of other animals are social. In fact, some animals, such as ants, are better at it than we are. Of course, we can out-run ants, and in my opinion we sing much better than they do, so it kind of evens out.
If we are not special then we are as free as we want to be. There's nothing preventing us from dying, and there's nothing preventing us from living. Nothing except our beliefs to the contrary.
One of those limiting beliefs is “I am special because I am unique.” It seems to be one of the favorite ideas of Western civilization. Yes, we are unique. Nobody has my life history; nobody has yours. But we don't rise above the context in which we live, either. We're not that special. Nobody is.
I used to wonder if people like, say, Stalin were special (in a horrible way) because they left such a stain on history. However, even the cleverest of them — Genghis Khan, perhaps — did not function alone. Each of them could only do what their society — their tsotl — made possible, and that society always reflected its own context.
As some people have pointed out, Hitler could not have become dictator if not for the Treaty of Versailles and the power of radio. Add to that some wily henchmen and a lot of blind luck, and there you have it: He was not so special after all. He was, however, as nutty as squirrel scheiße.
What about somebody nicer than Stalin, Genghis or Hitler? How about, say, Jesus? Well, if we put aside all the stuff that seems to have been added to what Jesus actually said and did, we start to wonder if we know anything at all about the guy. The more we investigate, the more we begin to suspect that all we can really know about Jesus are the tidbits his time and place permitted us to hear about. Perhaps we hear a hint of this in the Gospel of Thomas:
Jesus took Thomas aside and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked, “What did Jesus say to you?” Thomas replied, “If I tell you even one of the things he told me, you will stone me.”
Wow. Maybe Jesus was a bit too special for his time, though not quite special enough to not get killed.
Much of what I write in this blog doesn't appear anywhere else. It's original stuff coming direct from me to you. How special is that?
Well, given my life history it's not hard to understand what I am doing, and how I'm doing it. And if there's anything really original and valuable here, all I've probably done is write it a few years ahead of somebody else. If I've said anything truly ahead of my time, few people will pay attention until the time arrives. All things considered, this blog isn't special, and neither am I.
Still, you have to admit: It's pretty neat that an ape can type.