Humans can be very arrogant in believing we are the “superior” species on this planet. I think it’s worth questioning.

Many years ago, when I lived in a country that shall not be named, I was feeling really upset because that country was bombing civilians in Iraq. I could not get it out of my mind. When I got home I took my Golden Retriever for a walk.  As we were walking I looked at him and admired that he was not agonizing about children in Iraq. Neither of us was doing anything to actually help those children, but only one of us was allowing the news to ruin our day.  And then I thought about how humans are often plagued with thoughts about mortality and death, and that can prevent us from being in the moment. But as far as I know, my Golden Retriever was not aware of his own mortality, so he could live every moment fully, and not in the context of a finite life span. While I was thinking all this, he stopped in the middle of the street to use his mouth to scratch his private parts. I started thinking that I would never have the balls to do that (no pun intended).  So if we both had an itch, he’d relieve his but I would suffer until I got to a private place where I could scratch.

So what did all my “advanced cognitive functions” get me? I could worry about things over which I had no control. I could see every moment in the context of inevitable death, and I could be self-conscious whenever I am in public. I started to question whether human existence is really the highest form of existence to which we can aspire.

Maybe not worrying about things, living fully in the moment, and not being self conscious was a richer existence.Sure, we humans can figure out things like how to build nuclear reactors and vacuum cleaning robots, but is that trade-off worthwhile in terms of quality of life?

Maybe Darwin was wrong, at least in the case of humans.  Maybe our cognitive evolution has overshot the mark to where our thought processes are more of a detriment than an asset.

My Golden Retriever passed away years ago, but I have never forgotten that walk. If nothing helps, it keeps me humble about this “superior species” concept.