Exorcising the Animal: Why Hate Crimes, Racism, and Tribalism might actually be signs of progress


OK, stay with me, people: hate crimes, racsim, and tribalism are all some of the most disappointing and deplorable aspects of human nature. I think most people would agree with that. Because our human nature encompasses the entire spectrum of beautiful expressions of art, the power of compassion, and a tremendous intellectual capacity, it shouldn’t be hard to see that running people over with cars or marching around, yelling hateful things with swazticas and tiki torches in no way represents the pinnacle of human achievement (to say the least). Most of us are watching this all unfold with great consternation, indignation, and anger, and humanity deserves a little credit for this indignant reaction; it means that a significant portion of our species have made a conscious effort to resist our most base and primal behaviors. A significant portion of humanity actually chooses love over hate—in order to understand exactly how big a deal that is, we need some perspective on what humanity has been.
For FIVE MILLION YEARS, “humans” were just learning how not to be monkeys. That is approximately when the earliest hominid species appeared. And before that, it was only 50-55 MILLION YEARS ago that monkeys finally got their shit together and became monkeys… that is, only after a few BILLION years of, you know, being nascent primordial life and other scary things. We’re talking single-cell organisms. Fuckin’ amoebas. Fuckin’ fish and lizard things. HOW can any of us actually conceive of a million years, no less, a BILLION?! We can’t. Modern humans emerged about 200,000 years ago, but most modern civilizations have only been keeping count for a little over 2,000 years; that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. For MILLIONS of years, humanity couldn’t really even conceive of its own existence. We were busy eating shit off the ground and spearing mammoths or whatever—living only to survive.  I was watching a flock of pidgeons downtown the other day, and I watched them all peck aimlessly at the pebbles and cigarette butts, only narrowly avoiding getting hit by a bus. In their aimless pecking, I saw what must have been the human condition for millenia (minus buses and cigarettes, but same idea). We roamed the earth with no other awareness than the emptiness in our bellies and the fire in our loins.
And NOW, in the year two-thousand and seventeen anno domini, we expect everybody to be civil, compassionate, high-minded lizard-monkey-people. We expect that ONE war or ONE president or ONE political movement will exorcise us of the inherent animal nature within us all. The human species has made amazing progress, and they’ve done it really, really fast. We’ve found ourselves at the nexus of animalism and greater consciousness—and we’ve been here for thousands of years, and it might take hundred, or thousands of years to exorcise that viscious, fearful animal nature in all of us. The fact that we, too, are animals is a repressed trauma that we all push out of our minds… but it is still a fact. Hate crimes, racism, and tribalism come from our animal selves, and the fact that it’s even an issue how we treat one another in society is sign of progress. After studying ancient Greek history and Roman history, I’ve realized there’s really nothing new under the sun. We wonder why history seems to repeat itself ad nauseum, and that is because evolution takes a long fucking time. Let us continue to strive for more Love and compassion in this world, while also coming to terms with the reality of our animal nature. It’s the hand we’ve been dealt as a species, but that’s why humans are so amazing… we have been striving to overcome what we are. That’s kind of insane, if you think about it. The struggle of being human ultimately comes down to rejecting what we are, and what we have been, which means we’ve all felt—at some point—that there is something fundamentally wrong in our very nature. Humans are the species rebelling against nature. It’s hard. And it feels strange and uncomfortable, but we are making progress. And we will continue making progress for as long as we reach after something better than our animal nature; not everyone is going to be on board all at once, but collectively the rising tide lifts all boats. The horrible, tragic things that we’ve been seeing are part of the struggle for progress… and it could take a while to become the species we want to be.


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