Letter to the Editor: What really sets humans apart

Reader Larry Benson posits that the only difference between people and animals is that we destroy our environment.

I just heard a talk on RadioLab on NPR Sunday from a clergyman who went into some depth about Abraham and Noah not questioning god when he gave them directions, one to kill his son and the other to build an ark.

He claimed that the reason they didn’t question was because they had hope and he then went on to claim that hope is what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Actually, there is very little about us that distinguishes us from the animal kingdom when you think about it. If you get a lot of posts on Facebook about animals as I do you will see animals display every human emotion, including hope.

I saw a video where a dog was buried in mud with her puppies, as soon as she was freed she started digging for her pups; hope. I watched a small monkey try to save a kitten from a large hole, the monkey got into the hole, which it could easily jump out of on it’s own, pick up the kitten and then try to escape, compassion; empathy. I’ve seen elephants mourn their dead; love and grief. I’ve watched animals display every human emotion so I’m not sure where this man got the idea that hope makes us unique.

Now you might say that spoken language makes us unique but we have successfully communicated with several different species through sign language and actual speech, gorillas and chimpanzees with sign language and parrots with actual speech, and yes, they can actually carry on conversations. I would contend that it is simply hubris that makes us think we are much removed from other animals on our planet nothing more.

We are the only animal with the capability to destroy our environment though and right now we are hell bent on doing exactly that. We are also the only animal to kill each other in the millions over books of myths and fables. Just sayin’.

Larry Benson