A while back my wife and I were sitting in the car at a red light. The car in front of us - a 70’s/80’s era angular Detroit gas guzzler - contained four people, two in the front seat, two in the back. The right side back door opened; an arm reached out; and a passenger set a half-finished 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup on the ground. The door closed, the light turned green and the car drove away. I’m not sure words can describe my level of disgust.
When asked if I am an optimist or a pessimist, I like to respond that I am a realist. But I know that my realism is quite slanted toward the darker view of things. Scenes like the one related above, repeated ad nauseum every day, define my understanding of the world. Human beings, as a whole, don’t care. We can’t even put forth the effort to find a garbage can for a paper cup when we reach our destination. We aren’t cognizant of the world and our impact on it. We don’t care how our actions affect others or the environment. Our thoughts and behaviors center on the individual organism, not on the species.
If you believe in evolution, homo sapiens rose to the top of the evolutionary ladder because of our developed brains, our higher reasoning. But not even our vaunted gray matter can fend off millions of years of “survival of the fittest.” In the animal kingdom - which we are most definitely a part of - species do not protect and insure the survival of other species. Animals in the absence of predators will procreate unchecked until the surrounding environment is destroyed; there is no birth control practice among rabbits. It is clear to me that man has not risen far above the beasts.
In the movie “The Matrix”, Agent Smith soliloquized about humans at length during his attempt to break Morpheus. He compared men to an organism which displays the same tendency toward destruction: a bacterium. Not far off the mark.