Insignificant Life

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By Asiya Shoaib Ismail

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Humankind are the most selfish of all living creatures, not possessing the capability to live beyond themselves. This is defined by the way they sit and nurse grievances or mourn those who have passed away. This nature of man is the one thing that goes against him in most cases. The ability to remember some of the most hurtful or embarrassing incidents of the past life sometimes lead onto feelings of hate or regret which are detrimental to the growth of humans. The power to let go is what truly lacks in us, and therefore the concept of ‘forgiving and forgetting’ is unachievable because we cannot forget; not unless we all get amnesia and forget ourselves and those around us.

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Another side to this idea is that from the day we gain consciousness, most of us develop certain ideals of what we think is right and who we think is right. On this basis, we go ahead and form affiliations with people and start picking on those we don’t agree with. So somebody becomes ‘stupid’, somebody a ‘heretic’, somebody a ‘saint’ and somebody a thing so hateful that you wish it was dead. By doing so we either put a select few on a pedestal higher than us, while the rest become mere creatures; filthy creatures to be ridiculed, maligned and proven to be lesser than us. And humans as a social group thoroughly enjoy maligning and offending each other. The ‘us & them’ as they call it.

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What I fail to understand though is, why humans love to stoop to a level that rarely befits them being the only animal with a brain large enough to think straight and think practically. The breath and energy people waste on refuting arguments and shutting each other up can truly be used to much greater use such as researching or through polite debates rather than random slander. Furthermore, I don’t understand why humans love to believe that they are the most amazing and awesome thing in this universe. Though they claim that there is a being superior to them, a god or a higher deity, they usually tend to use this being when it suits them otherwise choosing to completely flaunt the authority they claim it possesses. They use god to prove how the world has been made for them and them alone and that everything on earth exists for the benefit of the human. Though it is true that the human is the only highly developed animal, one cannot deny the entire history and heritage behind them, the great number of species and the environmental conditions that helped the mammals develop into who they are today.

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When one looks at the entire cosmos and the wondrous activities that happen within it, and then sees the puny size of planet earth and the even punier humans, it appears rather shameful, the narcissistic and arrogant behaviour of these bacteria-like humans who think that they own the world, when in fact there is a much larger world outside of them and their silly grieving selves. Man proves to be, dumb and at the same time, the smartest animal to roam the earth.

The writer is self-studying the Korean language and Hangul script at the  moment and possesses a keen interest in learning as much about the Korean culture as is possible.

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12 responses »

  1. I completely agree with you. I think another facet to this never ending debate is the fact that we bury ourselves deep in our menial issues, while there are a millions who don’t even have a shelter over their heads. We need to get our priorities straight!

  2. You don’t even need to look beyond this world into space to realize how insignificant as a species we are. Look at the workings of the world. Look at oceanic life alone!
    … but yeah, there’s no curing humanity of its idiocy sometimes.

  3. good article. i agree that since the very beginning, we develop certain ideals of what we think is right and who we think is right. But “Humankind are the most selfish of all living creatures because we sit and nurse grievances or mourn over those who have passed away”? maybe im misunderstanding the first two lines of the article. but i think we are all just humans and this is how we function; feel happy feel sad, we learn relearn, make mistakes and feel loss. i think you do too. 🙂
    but i get how you also feel that people are so full of themselves, we started thinking we own the entire universe.
    great work, nicely written x

    • the exact problem is the fact that feeling is fine, but creating ego issues out of a few feelings is impermissible.

  4. Your articles ‘Apathy’ and ‘Insignificant Life’ are somewhat related. I say this because apathy often results in selfishness. While I do agree with you when you say:
    ‘The power to let go is what truly lacks in us’,
    I feel that it is a lot more complicated than that. Indeed, human beings are pros at hoarding resentment, bitterness, unfulfilled fantasies et cetera, but they also have a prevalent quality of adaptability and I think that it is the imbalance between the two that gets us into trouble.
    You make a great point where you say:
    ‘Most of us develop certain ideals of what we think is right and who we think is right’.
    The utter ignorance and cruelty with which many people judge is perhaps the largest source of our disparities with one another – be it between countries, towards minorities or anyone who crosses society norms. When, in fact, the very idea of right and wrong being absolute is flawed and we blatantly manipulate it. You have brilliantly analysed this severe lack of compassion and understanding.
    Another beneficial concept that humans tend adulterate is the idea of God; rather than finding humility from it, more often than not, we use it as a filter or a stencil to look at the world, instilling a certain arrogance, which you have excellently put here:
    ‘They use god to prove how the world has been made for them and them alone and that everything on earth exists for the benefit of the human.’
    While it is true that humans are the most evolved species, they don’t stand a chance against Nature and more importantly, aren’t very important to the ecosystem after all. There’s a popular quote by the biologist Jonas Salk where he says:
    ‘If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.’
    This idea can further be reinforced by a couplet from ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ by Sara Teasdale:
    ‘Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
    If mankind perished utterly;’
    The reality of our true helplessness should bring a humility within us, but us humans are funny creatures. Where you say:
    ‘Man proves to be, dumb and at the same time, the smartest animal to roam the earth.’,
    it becomes the crux of this cynical, yet insightful article. It also constantly alludes to our almost ridiculous contradictory qualities, also aptly put in ‘A Character’ by William Wordsworth:
    ‘I marvel how Nature could ever find space
    For so many strange contrasts in one human face:’
    Fantastic piece of writing. Thank you for sharing!

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