Monday, February 2, 2015

Are We Dancing Bears?

If you want to understand a species, observe the behaviors of its members over time. Bears have specific behaviors that have been exhibited throughout bear history. Bears forage, hibernate, are omnivorous, and so on. While the reactions of one bear in a particular situation may be unpredictable, the general behaviors of the species are extremely predictable.

Likewise, observation of the human species yields similar understanding. Throughout history, humans have always organized into groups, aspired towards moving up in their respective social pecking orders, developed religious systems, fought with groups having opposing views and with groups having desired resources, and so on.

It is possible to train a bear to dance and do tricks. A bear can rise above its nature and learn to do things beyond the scope of the average bear. However, training a bear to dance does not change the behavior of the bear species. The dancing bear is an anomaly and will likely be rejected by other bears in nature.

Individual humans can also rise above their base nature and, using the highly complex human mind, learn to live as relatively enlightened, rational animals. But, an enlightened individual does not change the overall patterns of the human species. Socrates, Plato, Gandhi, the Buddha all demonstrated varying levels of enlightened understanding... but they were anomalies and were ultimately rejected by their species.

The species did not become enlightened by the efforts of enlightened individuals. Instead, the human species simply incorporated concrete aberrations of abstract, enlightened messages into the same systems and patterns that have always existed in humans (i.e. forming groups, moving up in social pecking orders, fighting with groups that have opposing viewpoints, etc.).

I postulate that enlightened beings are no more than dancing bears. They are an interesting anomaly having little impact on the species at large. Bears behave like bears. Let them be bears. Humans behave like humans. Let them be humans. We each have the opportunity to develop our minds and bodies far beyond those of the typical human, but that will not change the nature of the human species.


  1. I would say no. All we do to improve improves our species, and that probably goes for the dancing bears, too, in a sense, since people who like 'dancing bears' will be more sympathetic towards bears in general.


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