Humankind: Apex Predator

December 28, 2016


                                                                                                  Rise of an Apex:

                                                                            Humankind’s Unstoppable Quest for Power



                                               “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

                                                                                                   -Albert Einstein


     It is no secret that technology has exceeded even what the greatest minds in history thought possible. Computers, which once took up a whole room, now fit in the palm of your hand; the pain of going to the dentist has been removed, and children can be grown in coolers for three hundred dollars. But does the benefit of all this “wonderful” technology come at a price? While technology is certainly very important for humankind to survive, and continues to lead us farther and farther from our hunter-gatherer roots, it has also taken away our ability to naturally adapt to our surroundings and everyday challenges without relying on some form of technological advance; furthermore, and perhaps much more pressing, it has led humankind to great evil and destruction. Even though human beings have only been here for a few seconds on the evolutionary timeclock, we have already become the apex predator; we have no natural enemy. There is no species on earth that we cannot conquer, and there is no part of nature that we cannot bend to our will. With the advancement of technology - factory farming, genetic research, and computer technology - it is only a matter of time before it completely over runs the world and destroys what little humanity, humanity has left.

     Mary Shelley, who wrote the famous, “Frankenstein”, a book that continues to capture imaginations all over the world, says in her iconic work, “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow” (Shelley     ). While she may have written this novel two hundred years ago, her words are profoundly prophetic even today. Over the course of the novel, Dr. Victor Frankenstein becomes increasingly obsessed with his work of creating the “perfect specimen”, not unlike the dark years of America’s eugenics program where more than thirty thousand people whom the government ruled “feebleminded”, were sterilized, or the Holocaust and Hitler’s almost successful attempt to exterminate millions of Jewish people and build a “master race” (Black 123). As Victor Frankenstein did, humankind continues the search for “the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life” (Shelley 23). And, again, much like Victor Frankenstein, our dreams are “undisturbed by reality” (Shelley 23). 

     While the dark history of eugenics may be behind us, the stains it has left on humanity remain. However, it is not the countless lives lost, or the unspeakable acts that have been committed in the name of science that stain the human species, but the mentality it leaves behind. If one were to look at the factory farming industry, also known as confinement agriculture, he or she would see the cruel treatment and mass murder of what humans consider to be “lesser species”, all in the name of health (Kirby 215). We are able to genetically alter any animal we view as less, to suit our wants, and as a result millions of animals suffer cruel and unnecessary conditions, such as forcible impregnation, torture, and hanging; as of 2016 there are no laws governing confinement agriculture practices, and very few politicians are willing to go against agricultural facilities (Death On a Factory Farm). Of course it can be argued that humans need to eat to survive, which is certainly true, however, one does not need to gorge themselves on beef until his or her heart explodes, and you certainly don’t need to torture an animal for your next meal. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, meat was a luxury, and yet they still managed to thrive. It is through technology and the lust for power that our peaceful roots were forgotten about.

     The factory farming industry is without a doubt a culmination and combination of humankind’s lust for power, and making things bigger and more efficient. It is also a result of our dwindling capacity for empathy. Margret Sanger, founder of the evil - or possibly wonderful depending on who you ask - Planned Parenthood, says in her book “The Pivot of Civilization”, that “all along the line, in colonization, in agriculture, in medicine and in industry, mankind has triumphed over nature” (Sanger 225). She further goes on to imply that mankind should transform the blind and undirected energies of nature to better suit our needs (Sanger 226). But of course as it always does, and as author Edwin Black says, “Mankind’s quest for perfection has always turned dark” (Black 9). Eugenics may be a dirty word from the past, but are the practices in a factory farm, like de-beaking, and shredding baby chickens to feed back to their mothers, really any different than eugenic technology, and the evil “doctors” of the Holocaust?

     It must be said that the Apex mentality is not only in how one treats those who might be deemed as “less than”, but also in how one deals with those who are considered equal. As early as ten years ago, before touchscreen phones, and the bad grammar of text messaging, people actually talked to each other. Now if you text a friend and tell them how you’re feeling, the only response you might receive is, “K”. Even bullying, which could have been dealt with easily ten years ago, has increased drastically through technology. It is a sad fact that 1 out of 7 children from kindergarten to 12th grade is a victim of bullying; and cyber bullying, which is still relatively new, has already affected 50 percent of children. Through technology, many young people are being bullied so much on social media that it drives them to take their own lives (New York).

     It is not only hate and mayhem that stem from the advancement of technology and humankind’s lust for power, but also an extreme inflation of one’s arrogant capabilities; to quote Alec Baldwin's arrogantly brilliant surgeon in the movie ''Malice'':

''When someone goes into that chapel and they fall on their knees and they pray to God that their wife doesn't miscarry or that their daughter doesn't bleed to death or that their mother doesn't suffer acute neural trauma from postoperative shock, who do you think they're praying to? ... You ask me if I have a God complex. Let me tell you something: I am God” (qtd. in Dowd).

We have come to a period in time where we are able to pick and choose what our children will look like, and treat the ageing process as just another sickness that needs to be cured, which, according to bio gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, we are just a few short years from curing (TedTalks). With each advancement of medical science, the need for religion and god diminishes, as humankind becomes its own deity, and the focus of society shifts toward a wants only based existence of pleasure and efficiency. This can already be seen in the millions of jobs lost to robotic technology, and the millions of families affected.

     Of course, it is through technology that much human suffering, and in fact the suffering of other beings, has diminished. Diseases which were once incurable and mysterious, can now be cured very easily. AIDS patients can now be treated, instead of having to suffer and die alone. People can be given new hearts when theirs starts to fail, and if they’re really in need, even a new head. In fact, the first human head transplant is scheduled to be performed next year in China, by Italian Neurosurgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero, dubbed by some as “Dr. Frankenstein” (NBC). If this procedure does prove successful, then humankind truly knows no bounds.

     As one can see, technology and the search for knowledge and power have completely changed the world we live in. It has become such a part of human nature that nobody really thinks about it. The torture of other living creatures for food and fashion, the genetic altercation of DNA, and our command over our environment has put humankind in a direction that may lead to destruction 




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