Tis the time of year once again where little children trace their stubby, disproportional hands and fill them in with colors of fall they’ve probably only seen on TV. ‘Cause like, really, who goes outside anymore?
E-mail inboxes are filled to the brim with cheesy holiday e-cards, sentimental powerpoints and seasonally appropriate jpegs. It’s the official beginning of the season of cheer, family, and graciousness. So we post about it on our blogs and facebooks and twitter, citing happy holidays, delicious turkey day, and a generous seasoning of “I am thankful for ___” lists. Because no first world country would be complete without the smug sense of humility that comes from verbally expressing thanks for concepts as everyday to us as running water and sterile turkeys.
What sort of person would I be, then, if I didn’t continue the tradition? There must be something I’m thankful for, and it shall be publicized to show just how grateful of a spoiled brat I am!
After tedious minutes of deliberation, and notching off the regulars (family, friends, internet) I realized that ultimately there is one thing that we as an entire species should be thankful for.
As a member of the modern homo genus, I am thankful for the absolute pitiful nature of our human condition. We are some of the neediest, most inept, frailest creatures on this planet, and for that we have reached awesomeness.
On the top of the food chain, predators are judged only by their abilities. Their strength, their cunning, their natural weapons such as claws or teeth or poison. They tend to live alone, or at most in small groups with single leaders and intra-pack competition. On the other hand, there exist the prey, the swarm animals who live as one humongous organism, like ants or flocks of birds and schools of fish. Each individual only does their part, and if the path of the group causes that individual to die, so be it. The horde lives on. They have strength in sheer numbers, and each member is simply a piece of the bigger picture.
But humans have neither the abilities of the predator nor the hive mentality of the prey. We have no sharp fangs or long talons or toxic barbs. We can’t run very quickly, or jump very high, and we have no chance at flying or surviving in the water with our flaccid limbs and sensitive skin. We can’t be proper hive animals either. Each one of us demands to be noticed, to stand out in some way to somebody, and no sort of hive can survive with such selfish individuals.
The only thing that saved us as a species, the one key component that no other animal can even try to compare with, is our desperate need. Physical needs to be part of a group that can stand a chance against the stronger predators. Emotional needs to be wanted and supported by someone. Too weak to be predators, too selfish to be prey, we latch onto each other because we physically can’t survive alone, and emotionally can’t stand to lose one who cares about us. All of our innovation, successes, and world domination have come from the existence of our grand collection of countries filled with people living together. Which grew from cities of people working and interacting with each other. Which grew from villages with families and trading. Which grew from two humans meeting up and realizing they had to do everything in their power to keep each other alive, so that they could live together, hunt together, and share emotional 140 character tweets with each other.
Cheers to being pathetic.