“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I had a drunken conversation with a friend recently who told me she hates humanity, and thinks it would be best if we all died off and left the planet in peace.
“Everything we do is harmful,” she said. “We treat animals like crap, we cut down the rainforests, we tear holes in the ozone layer one drive to work at a time. We even kill each other for God’s sake! Human beings think they’re so special when, in reality, there’s no reason for us to be alive.”
No doubt, a lot of what she said is true.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but challenge her on this, which led to two empty bottles of red and a “let’s agree to disagree” stalemate. I woke up this morning and found the topic still very much on my mind.
As truthful as her cynical and nihilistic approach to life may be, I feel I must defend humanity.
Wish me luck.
Are we guilty?
To curse the whole of humanity is one thing, but try personalizing it to friends, family, and lovers, and see if that changes your perspective. Are those closest to us just as terrible as the rest? I don’t believe any friends of mine are involved in cutting down the rainforests. One could argue that we all play a part since we reap the benefits. We may not own the sweatshops, but we certainly wear the tee-shirts.
Shall we condemn each one of us who is born to this world?
How about we lock up every Muslim for any terrorist acts in the name of Islam? We could put an end to all dogs, while we’re at it, for the ones who act out and bite somebody. Should we chastise all Americans too, because one American company tries to monopolize the rainwater of a Third World country?
Human beings are often painted as a virus eating away everything in its path. It’s easy to look at the evidence and be disgusted by it, but we cannot possibly all be smeared with the same brush.
Of course, you could say the good does not outweigh the bad, and so any argument that the Earth would be better off without us would be justified.
To that, I ask, “Do you not have any faith in humanity at all?”
Our potential for greatness.
How much progress have we seen in our lifetime? Advances in science and technology have completely reshaped our world. Our understanding of the universe continues to grow. Our sense of morality and overall acceptance of others is certainly better than what it once was. Imagine where it all might lead! I envision a future where the problems we have now no longer exist.
“How can you think that?” you might ask.
I’m an idealist. I cannot help but imagine the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.
“How naïve! Unrealistic. Childish!”
My friend was right—we do a lot of harm and we have a lot to learn, but give us time. Allow humanity the opportunity to not only right our wrongs, but to go beyond that—to venture forth beyond the planet itself.
We should not forget that we are capable creatures. We are daring, brilliant, and driven, with a stone-hard resilience to overcome any obstacles that come our way.
We have powerful minds that allow us full control of our own futures. We decide what the road is and where it goes. We are creators of this world and maybe one day we could be creators of other worlds, too.
Something tells me we can do better—and I believe someday we will.
Humanity finds its own meaning.
“Human beings think they’re so special when, in reality, there’s no reason for us to be alive,” she had said.
I suppose it’s fruitless to argue the real purpose of why we are here. She could very well be right. Perhaps we’re merely a natural phenomenon with no spiritual entity of any kind pulling the strings—I’m sure that’s more true than not.
But to say there is no purpose for living? I don’t buy it. What of love and loyalty? Creativity? Accomplishment? Pleasure and joy?
There is nothing I appreciate more than a great debate over our existence with a close friend and a perfectly balanced glass of wine. To me, that alone, is purpose enough.
Our ability to question our own existence may be our greatest gift of all. It enables us to decide our own fate as we search for our place in the universe.
So what if there’s no real reason for us to be here? We find our own reasons. We decide what our time here is worth and what we want from this life, and then we figure out a way to make it happen.
Now imagine that level of determination on a grand scale, one where all the minds of the human race are aligned and searching for the solution to whatever problems we face in this world. Imagine the strength behind such a will to survive and succeed.
Let’s ponder on that for just a moment before condemning all of humanity to a meaningless horde—wreaking havoc upon the Earth.
Author: Justin Bedard
Image: Ivana Bugarinovic/Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson