We of the human species are unique in many ways, different from other species in our form and ways of constructing the world around us. All the Beings who exist in the more-than-human world are unique as well, each in their own ways. We can observe a lot of our differences, from external appearance to actions. What we cannot do, however, is know what any other species is thinking, feeling, or believing. We make guesses but we cannot know. This is one area that troubles me deeply about human ego.
I read widely across many genres of fiction and non-fiction, yet find myself curious as to why humans have such a tendency to proclaim that we know what other Beings perceive and conceptualize from within their inter-related experiences of living. I have lived intimately with dogs and cats for most of my life; I can try to guess what one of the blessed beings is thinking, but I cannot know their thoughts. Even people who have psychic gifts still process what they believe they are receiving from an animal or other natural Being, but it may not be entirely valid because they receive through their own context and human nature. This anthropocentric arrogance puzzles and, yes, annoys me.
It’s really very simple. You cannot know what I think, feel, or believe unless I tell you in some way, usually through human language. You can hazard a guess, especially if you know me well, but even in conversation or through writing, we can conceal or reveal only what we wish someone else to know. Why, then, would we presume to know what another species may be able to think, feel, or believe?
And yet, this presumption spills over into dialogue among people who ought to know better. For instance, this morning, I was listening to a podcast where the interviewer said, as if there could be no doubt:
It’s only human beings that have this curiosity to understand, ‘What’s that up in the sky? How do we fit into that? Who are we? Where do we come from?’
Really? Is that true? Maybe, maybe not. We have no way of knowing. Unless and until humans are able to converse with other Beings, we will never know. Let’s try not to keep putting ourselves in that special construct of creation that revolves around “it’s only human beings that [fill in the blank].” Let’s acknowledge our unknowing. Instead of saying “only human beings have [X]” let’s remove the “only” and allow our human qualities to express themselves on their own merit.
The Divine created all Life, all Beings, and only She knows the unseen landscape of each Being’s mind, soul, and spirit.