The Illusion of Control

I spend an inordinate amount of time out in nature and, like Einstein so aptly suggested, it helps me "understand everything better".  Lately the lesson I have been shown over and over again is how arrogant we are as humans.  For no real reason that I can think of other than our desire to be in control, we write off most of our behaviors to choice.  Why?

It makes no sense to think nothing we do (other than suckling) is pre-programmed into our DNA like every other animal and living thing on the planet.  Some of the most bizarre and amazing behaviors exist in other living things... like the bowerbird that constructs beautiful works of art to attract a mate (without ever being taught).  The poisonous frogs that live in the rainforest that dutifully carry their tadpoles one by one to a specific  kind of plant and feeds them until they grow legs.  The octopus that starves herself to death for 6 months to protect her eggs.  You can watch these and more on Netflix, a great little series called "Life".  The more mundane and well-known behaviors of walking, swimming, finding food or a mate, hiding, flying, playing, fighting... all behaviors that are never taught.

It's easy for us to look at these behaviors in other animals and chalk them up to "nature", something that is programmed from the beginning.  But, I wonder what we do that's programmed?  Testing our boundaries and the world around us is vital, and we do it as infants and toddlers, but why?  And why do we adopt the behaviors of our social group?  Think of the kids raised by animals who adopted animal behaviors to survive... that pull to fit in made us who we are, the ultimate mimics.  What does that mean in the context of our society?  Do we really have our own minds or is the concept of Sigmund Freud's "group mind" a reality?  Advertisers already know the answer to that one ;)  Most likely it's a combination of both.  I would love for us to stop looking at ourselves as separate from nature and really study us the same way we view the rest of the living world, unbiased and with a glut of excitement to observe and report.  I think we're taking great strides towards this in recent years.  It's going to take a lot of humility from the human population to carry it even further.  Admitting we have less control can seem like we're writing people a permission slip to be immoral... I disagree.

I do think we're unique and special, but not in all the ways we seem to celebrate.  We are a collection of innate behaviors that lead us to become some of the most fascinating animals on this planet.  The ability to feel awe and gratitude when looking at a sunset, for one... appreciation of beauty, expressing emotion through various means, creating music and art to convey emotion.  We are awesome, and finding out why isn't going to change that.  We can really understand ourselves if we understand what we're working with.  On a side note, I believe that the word "nature" applies to everything that exists.  Everything.  If it wasn't natural, it wouldn't be here.  There's no such thing as "unnatural" because simply existing is a natural phenomenon.  Normal and natural are not interchangeable.  In understanding the laws of nature, we understand ourselves and our link to everything else.
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