Thursday, July 7, 2011

Humans, humanity, humaneness.

Human(e). This has to be the most ironic and Sapiens-centric word in the English language. To be kind, compassionate, or merciful is certainly neither specific to nor generally characteristic of us bipeds. In fact, it seems we have the most well developed taste for cruelty on the planet. We love to talk about our acts of humaneness in relation to animals--perhaps because it's easier to be merciful to a beast than to one another. Or is it? Check out the attached article on a group of US soldiers and their families who raised money to transport their adopted Afghan camp dogs back to the US. We are supposed to marvel at the cruelty of the Afghan person who cut off this dog's ears and then marvel at the kindness of the soldiers who have come to love this dog. But quick reminder: the soldiers are there to kill other humans and anything else that gets in the way. Americans back home still routinely chop off their dogs' ears because some people think it looks tough. Why do we need tortured animals to tell ourselves these stories about our own human(e)ness? To be human is only sometimes to be humane. To forgive, to serve, to protect--that may be most purely canine.

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