What Does it Mean to be Human?

What does it mean to be human? Does it mean that we are beings who have dominion over all that is touched by the sun’s rays? Have we conquered outer space, the ocean, ai, the world wide web? Do we influence everything that we touch and if so for good, for evil, or indifference? Are we sociopathic by nature and shall we decide in the moment when it hits us just for the sake of chaos and disorganization? Do we seek to conquer rather than communicate and do we seek to dismantle rather than understand?

A 12 year old boy shoots a dog in the gut because he has a new gun and he wants to see what it can do. Is that what a human does when left to his own devices? The dog writhing in pain and confusion as to what has happened to it while it was minding its own business, unaware that anyone meant it harm, is not the most disturbing piece of the picture. The thing that i cannot reconcile in my mind is that the 12 year old boy in the story is a sixty year old man whom i know to be a fierce protector of and advocate for dogs, who owns way too many of them and spends most of his paycheck giving them the best life possible, and even sleeps on a cot on the floor to be nearer to the two that are not allowed to sleep on the bed due to low status in the pack. He dedicated his life to dogs after he took the life of one and the suffering of the innocent creature at his hands because of his decision, his finger, and his new gun haunted him for the rest of his life. It wasnt a cold calloused serial killer who shot the dog in the gut and watched it writhe in fear and pain. It was a child of man left unsupervised with a weapon. Are we inherently evil? If left to our own devices will we do awful things? How could a man i know to be so protective of and attached to dogs have done this thing when he was 12? Was he desensitized, used to shooting deer? Did he shoot it in the gut on purpose, or did he just have poor aim? The way he describes that dog writhing in pain with total shock in its eyes…the way he describes how he realized it was a perfectly good and healthy lab when he got up closer to it…before he ruined it, it seems like the moment made an impression on him. You cant take it back once you’ve done something like that. There’s no control z for life. I was clinging to a blue heeler at the time and i was burying my hand in its fur trying not to hear this story with my chin open and hanging in total overwhelm and disbelief hoping he would stop talking before someone else in the room shouted at him to cease the discussion because she didnt want to know anymore. I didnt ask if he mercy killed it by putting a bullet in its head after he had ruined its life, but i hoped to God he did. If he watched the dog’s suffering play out i wouldnt be able to handle it, i wouldnt ever be able to look at him as a person again. He had broken my cardinal rule. Not only did he not protect the innocent, he actively harmed that which was pure and loving, a loyal animal who would not know to fend for itself. This was not a venomous snake or a wild boar. This was a domesticated animal that trusted humans after hundreds of years of grooming its species to do so. Could God forgive him? Should God forgive him? If God were to forgive him, would i have it in me to understand why or follow suit? How could he? A gut shot. 12 or 62? How could he do it? This man, full of scripture, protector of dogs….how could he be the one to have done something as final and sickening as this? How?

But humans are sickening everywhere it seems. From the employee of a mainstream company in broad daylight who commits a felony and takes out a $25,000 loan in a customer’s name with his own bank account information to the man impersonating a police officer in a small town so he can pull women over and rape them, to the legit police officers that beat a person severely when they pull them from the vehicle because they put their flashers on and drove to a more populated area instead of pulling over immediately when they saw the cop throw on their lights and siren…to the police officers from my childhood who told me to call back about domestic violence when the aggressor standing in my yard threatening me and banging on the door was either actively trying to shoot or knife me and i had witnesses to the scene…to the officer who told me in my twenties that cops are really here to find out who killed you after the fact, not prevent your death. It is statements like that one that keep me from being for gun control. If you tell me the authorities can only investigate my death after the fact, but my neighbor is willing to shoot the axe murderer on sight, i want my neighbor to have a gun, not the cop. I dont really care what the cop is doing, because unless im dead, i cant call upon his services.

It is storming everywhere. I need to get home but im two towns away, still at work. The sun has set and the light is fading. There’s a man calling me gorgeous and holding doors for me. It is after hours. I dont want to be in the building alone with him while all the patients are asleep, the lights are off, and the staff station is empty. I leave the facility even though i desperately have to go to the bathroom. I am later told that this man has had a hard life, watched women mistreated from his mother on up to adulthood and has made it his personal mission to show women that chivalry is not dead and thats why he opens the doors for women and calls them all gorgeous, but i wouldnt know this because my experience with men, growing up in a major city, is that when they call you gorgeous or do something nice for you, they want something. Kindness, with men, is transactional. Thats what i learned throughout my life. The small town girls didnt like this and were angry that i had jumped to the conclusion when the chivalrous man called me gorgeous and held the door, but i cant afford to err on the side of benefit of the doubt because im living in a world full of many animals and one chivalrous door holder, as the universe provided an example of a mere few minutes later.

I stopped at a gas station and asked to use the bathroom. The man pointed me towards a unisex restroom. I went in and closed the door. I attempted to lock it and realized the lock had been ripped off the door. The second lock was installed in such a way that it didnt latch anything at all. There was no way of locking the door. I really really had to pee. It was now a matter of peeing myself or getting relief. I wouldnt make it much longer. I grabbed my box cutter and seat belt cutter on my key chain and held them in one hand while i held toilet paper with the other. Something told me i only had time for number one so i didnt bother with anything else. I retied the drawstring on my pants and washed my hands. As i was washing my hands the door flew open and a large man in hiking boots walked in. I could hear the gas station attendant shouting, no no, somebody is in there.” I said, “Oh. Not done yet.” He stood there for a moment, apologized, and then after too long a time for my comfort, stepped out, without closing the door. I thought for a second it was over and i could finish washing my hands when i saw in the mirror that he had returned. He just quietly let himself back into the bathroom and was standing there watching me wash my hands, blocking my exit. I picked up my box cutter and seat belt cutter with wet hands, turned to face him, sink still running, made eye contact, and said with unwavering confidence, “you go out now.” I was angry but not as shocked as i should have been. This was not a huge surprise to me, just another night. Friends asked me why i didnt call the cops. What for? To tell them what? A creep thought about a thing and then didnt do it? Was i gunning for another lecture on “call us when the rape or murder is in progress?” Its just another day in the land of the living. The world is a sick place, and i dont know if we should teach our little girls chivalry is not dead because maybe the night staff guy is kind and chivalrous but the next guy that holds the door probably wont be and if you give everybody the benefit of the doubt you’re going to end up in situations you cant get yourself out of easily. You have to see **** coming when there’s **** to be seen, and sadly that means being suspicious of every guy that calls me gorgeous for no apparent reason.

The man stood there and looked at me for a moment. I couldnt read him. He wasnt retreating or advancing. I raised the box cutter and closed my fingers around the handle. I was ready. He apologized again and left, leaving the door wide open. I closed the door. I finished washing my hands. I walked out past him and past the gas station attendant that had watched the whole thing unfold, had watched him go back into the bathroom a second time after he realized someone was in there. I walked out past them, got in the car, and drove home. Chivalry is dead, because believing the few men that are still chivalrous means we dont see the dangerous ones coming, so im perfectly fine but had it been one of the small town girls that was mad at me for the way i think when it comes to male strangers, its very possible they may have experienced something worth writing a police report about.

Yeonmi Park spoke about the starvation of the north korean people which makes them easier to control. She talked about how once a week every north korean citizen was required to inform on a peer, telling what they could improve upon or required discipline for. This meant that every citizen was watching everyone each week hoping to see something, anything, that they could report on when it was their turn. They were forced to tattle on each other and the people they tattled on could go to work camps or be executed as a consequence of what was said. PDA was illegal. There was no word for love in the north korean language. Everyone was starving, beaten, and in constant danger of being sent to work camps and tortured. The citizens were used to clean up the nuclear waste sites when they tested weapons. She saw birds eating a dead woman’s eyes and when a man was so starving his bony prominences made holes in his overstretched skin a dog sat waiting to take advantage of the intestines escaping from the man’s back as he waited for death. All the dogs were rounded up and killed in 2022 as a result of the regime declaring that family pet dogs were a western idea and would not be permitted in north korea. So she escaped to china where the people who helped her get out did so just to sell her and her mother as sex slaves. The amount of cruelty, rape, and starvation she went through at the hands of fellow humans makes me question what on earth God sees in us, or ever did.

Lets talk about the black ops individuals that spent years in prison before exonerated because a politician ordered them framed and a scene staged so the candidate they wanted to win could “crack down” on the foreign presence in the country and civilian shootings and be elected as the preferred and more manipulatable puppet head. They knew they were innocent and were willing to ruin their families’ lives and imprison them falsely for doing what they were trained to do as a means to an end.

My neighbor is bulldozing all the trees that once stood on acres of rolling hills. He is destroying the woods. The bulldozer comes in and tears down, uproots, drags away tree after tree into these gigantic piles and on a day when there has been rain the day before, he lights them. Everything on my property, including the dogs, is covered in tiny flakes of ash. The air is thick and choked by smoke. Pile after pile after pile of dead tree carcasses are set afire and burn across the street from me. Big grey circles are left on the ground which is now just a barren wasteland of brown dirt…once dotted with a multicolored carpet of beautiful majestic trees. This “progress” is in the name of grazing cattle. Now, when the wind blows, i dont hear it tunnel between the trunks of thousands of trees before it gets to me. It just rushes over the ground and its here. There is no hollow hum, no haunting sound. Only a shallow woosh. All around me humans are making progress, making progress destroying all that i love about the environment that we live in.

I sat parked where i always park to take my lunch break. Facing the wall of wild grapes hanging from the power line in front of a massive lot of shoulder to shoulder mesquite trees that usually had 2 or 3 cows, some deer, and turkeys in there. Except, today the wild grapes were torn down. There was no wall of green to shield the sun from the windshield so i could take my 20 min after lunch nap. Instead there were these giant yellow monsters with shiny metal tracks, taller than a one story building, zooming around at breakneck speeds, eating everything in their path and spitting it out the other side in the form of shredded twigs. They went back and forth in a grid pattern until by the end of my lunch break there was not a single mesquite tree standing. Anxious songbirds with nests in the trees dove at the machines, pecking and kicking and flying about above them but the machines continued on as if the birds werent even there. The birds followed the machines for most of my lunch break. When the last tree was consumed and the vehicles began trying to flatten and level the upturned dirt that remained, the birds gave up and settled on the ground in the dirt. There were no more tree limbs to light on. With nothing left to protect they gave up and landed, resting in the dirt as the machines threatened to run them over in their “progress”. These poor exhausted birds were so confused as to what to do next. Eventually they would hop off the field and light in nearby trees at the burger restaurant’s parking lot or next to the high school. It was as if it happened so quickly and so thoroughly, they needed a moment to process what they’d lost. Their home, their babies, their habitat, their purpose…. It looked like a wasteland. At the end of the day deer and a wild turkey were just standing in the middle of the road, unsure of where to go, and people got out of their cars to take pictures. On the worst day of their lives, home destroyed and in real danger of becoming roadkill, the paparazzi were just there snapping pics, documenting the tragedy as a cute little blip in their day. Now every lunch break i take is facing a construction zone, not wild grapes and turkeys. There is no more quiet, distant mooing, the melody of songbirds and sometimes the tap tap tap of woodpeckers. There is only the ceaseless screaming of the un-oiled tracks of the giant machines, squeaking their high pitched noises as they zoom about in the dirt at 40 mph pitching the giant metal creatures this way and that as if they were performing at a monster truck rally. My boss says they are moving so quickly because they get more money if they finish early and they probably want the building up by the time school starts. The cars are covered in dust. The parking lot is washed with clouds of dust. The air is filled with beeping and squeaking. My animals and birds are gone. My green wall of wild grapes is gone. My napping spot is tainted. The world ceases to make sense to me.

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