To Coexist

Alyssa - Farmington Hills, Michigan
Entered on November 16, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that we are not divine creatures. I believe that human beings hold no superiority over the chimpanzee, the dog, or the fish. The human race has become complacent with the imperious idea we are special; we hold some exceptional connection to the cosmos within our over-developed minds. I believe we are just a different kind of animal. Though we are clearly cognitive, emotional, expressive, and advanced beings, I view our place in the world as no different from, and no better than any other species.

From a very young age I’ve felt a companionship with animals. I cannot recall a time when I viewed them as anything other than living, thinking, feeling creatures. When I was growing up, my catechism teachers told me animals did not have a soul, nor did they go to heaven. Whether I believe in such abstract concepts as souls or heaven at all is debatable. The key is, my inherent opposition to this notion of inequality led me to recognize my belief.

My faith in science has contributed to my belief as well. Understanding the adaptations each species develops to cope with life led me to see the human mind as just one such adaptation. We think to survive. It does not make us better, only smarter. We engage ourselves in the same game of survival nature plays with all beings. We have found our method to make our way in the world, and it works, perhaps too well.

My relationships with the other beings inhabiting this earth cement my feelings. I’ve often come home in tears, collapsed onto my bed and soon found myself in the company of a concerned feline. Locked in the gaze of those soft, knowing eyes, I am sure of it: Compassion, though certainly a habit of intelligence, is not exclusive to the human race.

I am not a cynical thinker. I simply believe we have a place in the universe that holds no more meaning than any other place. I let this belief guide me every day. I see the world not as my own, but as something shared, something that’s been shared for countless centuries. We cannot, as a species claim this earth as our own to mold and destroy. We cannot simply accept ourselves as the inheritors of the planet. We cannot declare ourselves superior and refuse to acknowledge the ability of other creatures to think, love, and feel as we do. We can however coexist.