Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Animals Can Teach Humans

Good morning my friends. The rain is pouring down outside at a nice steady pace. It started early this morning on my walk to school and yes my friends, I danced. I danced down the street in my own little world and for a moment, briefly, I forgot I was inside of a city. Then I opened my eyes and was thrust back to the reality of my morning. I feel the same way when I go on walks in certain parts of the city. There are places you can go to return to nature, even in a city.

I enjoy the solitude of a silent walk in the nature. Being a country boy it should come as no surprise. I enjoy the trees, the rivers, the breeze, the forests, the lakes and the trails. What I enjoy most about all of this is the animals. I love observing the creatures of the world in their natural habitat; preferably without them being aware of my presence. There is something calming about seeing animals in the wild. I think there is much to be learned from the creatures that exist on this planet with us.

One of the most touching and inspiring things I have learned from observation and experience with animals is their sense of collective. Animals, mammals in particular, live in social groups. These collectives have many names depending on the type and species of animal (murder, pack, troop, flock, etc) but they all share one commonality: their need for one another. We consider ourselves to be superior beings to animals yet animals behave much more humane at times than we do. A collective of creatures takes care of itself; all of itself. This includes the weak, the young and the ill. Yes those are the ones the predators get first but so long as they're part of the collective, the collective works to ensure their survival. Wouldn't it be something if people behaved in this manner? Took care of each other...

Something else that I think that is necessary to recognize about animals is the significant contributions that they have given humanity in terms of growth in every aspect of human life. Social, technological, industrial...all of them. We, as people, are very creative and ingenious when it comes to invention but we are limited. We are limited to our own knowledge and our own experiences. If there were no birds, would we ever have thought to fly? Thank you Wright brothers. What if there were no whales to provide the idea of sonar? These are just two examples of large scale impacts on humanity that have come as a direct result of animals; but they are not the only ones.

Camouflage is another example of ideas borrowed from our animal brethren. I was once told that art imitates life; I think this is true, especially so when speaking in terms of human invention and animal characteristics. There have even been military tactics that have been devised by the observation of how ants march in large groups. Ants? Sounds crazy I know but there is so much to be learned from our environment and all that is within it; especially animals. We are, after all, animals in our own right.

There is a humbling feeling that accompanies the observation of animals in the wild, in their own natural habitat, surrounded with their own collectives undisturbed by the complications of humanity. An innocence that exists in humanity only in the form of young children before they become forced into this artificial and superficial society which we have created for them. Perhaps that is the greatest lesson that can be taught to us from the animal kingdom: humility. 

We, as human beings with advanced and developed craniums, have a large capacity for intelligence, creativity and discovery. Somewhere along the way this wonderful gift went from simplifying our existence to making it far more complex than it ever need be. Children, like animals, live outside of this complexity; unfortunately children grow out of this. Animals do not. They remain connected to their environment, to their collectives, to each other and to themselves. I understand that I am somewhat personifying animals here but there is much we do not understand about them and to discard them as lesser creatures because of our developed cerebral cortex is both naive and arrogant. Animals, insofar as I am aware, do not succumb to these forms of misleading emotion; they take nothing for granted. That's it. That's what I've been trying to find the words for this entire paragraph.

Animals take nothing for granted whilst we take the whole world for granted. If there is anything, anything at all to be learned from animals, this is it: do not take anything for granted.