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Are Humans Superior To Animals? What about ducks?

Updated on June 21, 2012

And do dogs talk philosophy?

I've often discussed with my friends this philosophical question. It's rather bizarre that us humans even ask the question. Not that there's a definite 'right' opinion on this, but the fact that everything from the Bible and Buddhism has well-thought out beliefs about this --well, it's all kind-of laughable. I don't think dogs are too concerned about this question. Could you imagine a dog, seriously now, going on a walk with its owner and having a nervous inner dialogue: "I see these cats and squirrels and bumble bees, but I know that I'm different, I'm a dog. But what about the question of deers and even trees?" Of course, some sort of learning will exist for all species, and we love to project things onto them, but I don't think they worry about it or stress about it for days on end, wishing they had some cash to spend or civilizations to create. They may get upset at owners, even seem to sulk, but they don't seem to worry about it before it happens. The point here, though, is wondering if the complexity of our psychology is really that much of an advantage. Spiritual schools like Zen will encourage the devotee to escape from all this dialogue, to be closer to living in the here now as animals do. While the Bible gives man dominion over the earth. I've also heard some indigenous tribes that believe the great whales had stewardship over the sea and humans over the earth -and incidentally, that the whales have done a better job than we have at this point!

A lot of my African friends that are first generation Americans think that it's absurd that Americans have veterinarians. "A doctor for the dog!" one once exclaimed gleefully, proceeding to laugh for five minutes straight. "We don't put so much attention on our animals. That's ridiculous!"

But getting back to the point --humans do seem to have more raw power than animals. We could destroy the planet easily if we decided to. Overnight. I'm not sure lions or mosquitoes are going to do that anytime soon --in fact they probably have some built-in biological assumption that such a thing is fruitless. And even if they did rebel, I'm not sure they'd have much organizational unity.

I remember reading Eckhart Tolle bring up the point of psychological health regarding animals that live in the wild. "Have you ever seen a depressed duck?" And indeed, it may be that animals in the wild are completely Zen. They can feel pain, and there are some extreme circumstances, but they don't really seem to escape the here now and get stuck in their head thinking about the past or the present, brooding over mistakes and grievances, wishing things could have only been different, that their incarnation as animals was an insult. "If only we could have been human...." they lament, "we're getting such a raw deal being stuck in the forest like this."

So all the questions aside, because this could go on forever.

I've come to an answer. I've emerged from the legions of history, war, petty jungle rivalries, and cats being thrown outside for the jumping on the table. I have the answer:

Who cares?!

Let's get on with living.


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