Wednesday, December 16, 2009

don't forget: you are a mammal

With all of the information floating around about health, eating this will contribute to to a healthier that, etc., it seems that we are overlooking our physiological, biological, environmental, and behavioral origins. This seems to be an overly simplistic way to project our real struggle to understand the intricacies of life and how we as a species should navigate through it with all of the distractions and involvements of the effects of modern technology. The motivations and effectiveness of advertising media keep people with a high and mighty attitude to give them a sense of empowerment to dupe them into impulse buys and the like. This is an extension of the tendency to distance us from the natural environment to exploit its resources and to act in a completely self directed way with moral impunity.

There are many elements from physics, biology, sociology, etc, that we will never understand. That is not to advocate a lack on interest in constructing theories on various facets of life, human and otherwise, but to keep it in mind when making sweeping claims that drinking coffee helps with colon cancer as was reported by NPR within the last week. This gives people a false impression of what they might be able to do to, or more importantly: what to buy, which plays on the ubiquitous fear of death.

It could be a humbling and accurate thought to keep in mind that indeed we are mammals. Our chromosomes are not so far removed from the other mammals on the globe. Biological make up, bipedal walking, thumbs and brain size (brain size contributing to language, cooperation, a sense of deep time, etc) are the main differences from our species and say those of mice or llamas. If you boil it down, we are distant distant cousins of the earthworm as we are just a later model of the animal. This reminder is one which makes the achievements of humanity even more impressive and keeps the worries of contemporary causes of stress down. We are mammals caught in a trap that is existence. This trap is one where we have room to appreciate the surroundings and ingenuity of our fellow inhabitants. The downfalls to this trap, again, the fear of death, social insecurities, etc. are never remedied by some "magic" product to be bought.

1 comment:

  1. We also keep forgetting that we're just one gene away from being yellow bananas! One little tweak in the double-helix, and walla... stupid, thinking mammals with opposable thumbs. Oops. (Nature must have looked away for a moment, slipped and put too much of something in the batter.)