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|Volume 12 |Issue 09| March 01, 2013 ||
An Age-old Delusion
AASHA MEHREEN AMIN
Despite the centuries-old delusion that humans rank top on the list of living beings because of apparently superior brains, the fact is that the reason they have advanced so much is because they are good at copying things - from nature. The idea of flying we know, came from birds who don't even think about it when they accomplish this amazing feat. Planes, helicopters, drones have all been shaped after birds, dragonflies and other insects just as many of our favourite cars, the beetle being an obvious example.
Now scientists are saying that even our ability to speak or use a language has originated from the birds and the bees. Darwin, many years ago, had already theorised that humans borrowed a lot from the songs of birds and possibly sang first before they spoke (which may explain our natural instinct for bathroom singing). Recently scientists are saying that Darwin was on the right track and have further discovered that over the last 50 to 80 thousand years humans have combined the sounds of birds and animals to come up with languages to communicate and send information. Sure, we may not have complicated mating calls but we do tend to lower our voices to sultry levels and spruce up to attract possible mates.
There is no question, therefore, that we love to copy which is why we have words like 'plagiarism', 'cheating', 'patent' and 'copyright' in our vocabulary.
The point of all this is that it is time we realise that we are not so original after all and a bit of humility is in order. Bees though tiny, in comparison to people, have the ability to organise themselves, divide their armies according to certain functions of the community, be democratic in their selection process and even willingly give up their lives for the greater good, in their case, the queen. All this may sound familiar to many a human and it's because those little creatures that can intimidate with their buzz and sting, have taught us these things just by doing what they were designed to do by nature.
Patterns, designs, colour – everything that is tangible – have all been copied from nature, from the symmetrical batik prints of butterflies to the perfect colour combination in exotic flowers and birds. This is why you will never find anything anomalous in nature everything is perfectly colour-coordinated, there is just no scope for the tackiness we see in film sets and living rooms of the rich and gaudy.
Why then is it that humans, in spite of getting so much out of nature, try to pretend that they know better?
We love greenery but go out of our way to cut as many trees as possible – to clear the way for gigantic, ugly billboards to add to our concrete jungles. We like the sound of birds chirping but we drive them away with our constant love for noise from garrulous voices through ubiquitous microphones, blaring horns, grating construction work and screeching arguments. We like the idea of a peaceful, clean, fresh environment, but do everything possible to make that impossible.
If it is being contrary, self-destructive, contradictory and delusional, then yes we are indeed different from all other living beings. We are unique in our ability to hate, kill, steal and deceive, not for survival, but just because we can. We grab from others not because we need to, because we just want to. Unlike other animals our appetites are insatiable; we will kill unnecessarily just to know what something tastes like.
Most of us are not cannibalistic and hence consider ourselves 'civilised' but it does not take much to get us to torture and kill other human beings because they are not the right colour, or of the right race, religion, political party…
We are also incomparable in the way we pull each other down, deliberately undermining and sabotaging our fellow species just to make ourselves look better.
Undoubtedly, all these traits are remarkably distinctive from any other animal, bird, insect or plant.
Thank goodness they are not our copycats.
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