Our Connectedness With Other Living Things
A Fresh Look at Who and What We Are
By: J. Marlando
It seems that some scientists now believe the missing link that has been hiding out somewhere between chimps, government workers and you and me has been found. It is thought that a nearly complete fossilized skeleton belonging to an unknown human ancestor may well be the link between ape-men and Cro-Magnons who are our very ancient ancestors. Remembering that our genes are 99% the same as a chimpanzee’s so the link, if there is one, will be extremely subtle. We also have the very same genome as, say, a pig. (A genome is a complete set of genes for an organism).
We are incidentally also related to the fungi and plants. But according to some researchers that relationship goes back millions of years. Be that as it may, we’ve all met with a few cabbage heads along our life’s journey so perhaps this explains why?
And speaking of cabbage heads, while we stay a jump or two ahead of animal intelligence, lots of animals are not really that far behind us. And anyway, it’s simply more complex being a human than it is to be, say, a mouse, horse or dog.
Many researchers on the other hand believe that we overestimate the thinking ability of the dolphin. For example they say the dolphin absolutely lack the “repertoire” of approaching anything near language as we know it. Nevertheless, they have tremendous communication skills and anyway, why would they need to build a vocabulary that matches our own or even have the communicative skills that we have? We should all remember what John Wayne taught us—never complain and never explain. Maybe that’s good Dolphin sense too?
Ah yes, and one other thing when it comes to Dolphins—Dolphins it seems have select whistles and clicks for certain other dolphins, this suggests names and names suggest individual personalities.
And finally chimps can talk. **That is quite a few chimps have been taught sign language well enough to actually put a few sentences together. One test of their ability to truly comprehend is that a teacher will put an apple amidst a bunch of other fruit, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes and more. The trainer will give the signal he wants an apple and sure enough, the chimps fulfills the request by choosing the right fruit.
***Elephants in many ways remain most impressive of all. I have had the privilege of working with them in the past and what I think impressed me most was their apparent ability to empathize. Empathy indicates conscience and conscience is a symbol of subjective realization—something thought to belong only to humans for centuries.
So what can we conclude from all this?
We are in a web of relationships with everything else including the animals, plants but beyond all else, with one another. While we see squirrels, elephants, mice, birds and reptiles in a kind of collective oneness, we see ourselves as uniquely individualist. But I am convinced that, just as the animals, we humans are all the same and our differences are only apparent. And I believe that if we could ask the dolphin or the eagle, the mouse or the elephant this, we would be told the same thing. We are after all in this world together, you and I with everyone else, each the very same but in different circumstances. When we grasp only this much we walk in peace and in harmony.
*What is interesting is that pigs are not only smart but clean: The problem is that pigs don’t have sweat glands and so they role in the mud simply to cool off.
**Suggested reading: Next to Kin * Roger Fouts *Marrow
***Suggested reading: When Elephants weep *Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy * Delta