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Humans: Just Another "Dumb" Animal.

Have you ever heard anyone say “It’s just a dumb cat”? I bet you’ve heard similar statements, not just about cats, but about animals in general. I have. Honestly, it’s pretty embarrassing to originate from a species that says this statement. I have noticed similar statements that have been said throughout our human history regarding gender, skin colour, and sexuality. The fact that we have not come to the realization that animals should also be respected as equals comes as a surprise to me. Hopefully, this statement will go extinct sooner rather than later. I believe if we invested more time into understanding animals then we would realize how degrading and incorrect this statement is. Regardless of your perspective, I have something I want to share with you about “dumb” animals.

Why did we come to this conclusion in the first place?
Two major contributors that I can think of is because of our ego (a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance) and speciesism (the assumption of human superiority leading to the exploitation of animals). If you want to learn more about speciesism, I suggest you check out Speciesism: The Movie. Let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and say we simply did not understand the intelligence of other animals.

Cats think we are just big stupid cats.
If I told you that cats think we are just big stupid cats… would you believe me? Chris Matyszczyk says, “Perhaps they really do observe that we behave in ways not dissimilar to their own. They watch us wander around, hunt purposelessly, and bring home a ton of KFC” (taken from Article on Cnet, January 2014). In fact, Anthrozoologist John Bradshaw has sparked this concept. Wish you could walk up to that cat and tell them you are actually a very intelligent human species. I think most animals would feel offended. Maybe you already have respect for animals, or maybe this made you respect them more. It doesn’t take a genius to know when an animal is expressing themself. All you have to do is listen to them.

Measuring animal intelligence.
“For the longest time apes and monkeys were said not to recognize faces, and then, at some point, I learned that they were testing all these animals on human faces. And so we started testing chimps on chimp faces and they were perfectly good at it. And now, of course, we know that sheep can recognize faces, that the wasps can recognize faces. … If you test them on our terms, which we have been doing for the longest time, and you find negative results, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.” said Frans De Waal in his book: Are We Smart Enough to Understand how Smart Animals are? I enjoyed every minute of reading this book, and I will read it again. When you have a moment, I urge you to listen to the free audio sample of his book. Frans argues that if we were to use standards of the animal itself, as opposed to human standards, we could measure their intelligence properly.

United we stand, divided we fall.
Humans often judge others by how smart they are. The smarter you seem to them (most likely on paper), the more respect humans typically show. It would be nice if this wasn’t true, but in reality, I found this to be the case.

Let’s say we eventually do understand how smart animals are and develop a better respect for them…

  1. Would we listen to them then?
  2. What would it take for us to listen to animals?
  3. Would the animals forgive us for what we have done to them in the past?
  4. If we listen to the animals, what will it take for us to act in their defense (and vice-versa)?
  5. Realistically speaking, does the human species need to understand animals in order to respect them?

We seem to have a great deal of trouble understanding, listening, and respecting other animals. Can we even handle the responsibility that we have? Maybe another species will beat us to it. Wondering what I’m talking about? Me too most of the time. I’m talking about surviving on earth. I’m talking bout overcoming our issue with having a big ego. Why do I think humans are too dumb for the earth? Because we are destroying the one and only place we live. We are, now, very aware of the irreversible damage we have done to earth (whoops). So we have figured out ways to look for a new planet to potentially live on (and essentially take over). I hope you can agree that this is a huge threat to other planets. Too bad those planets can’t speak English or I bet Mars would decline human requests to move there if it could. I can’t help but think if Mars was given the same rights as a human (equality), they would ask for us to submit an application before giving consent for us to be on their planet.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected… This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.” -John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington

(click here for a direct link to the article)

Lessons in life will be repeated until they are learned.
If you’re feeling offended by the whole cat thing, just remember, we thought other animals were dumb too. It doesn’t seem that crazy if you think about it. It actually makes a lot of sense. Cats think we’re just big “dumb” humans because they don’t understand us. We think were superior to other animals, when in fact, we just don’t understand them. Animals are smart in different ways. We have specialized skills to help us survive. Species can outsmart other species depending on the test. If we all have these special skills, why not put our abilities together? A dream team, if you will. It might be a difficult challenge, but it beats running away from our problems and taking over another planet (quite literally).

Is there any hope for us humans?
We might be just another “dumb” animal, but I see it as a challenge. We got ourselves into quite the situation on earth. We probably can’t get out of it on our own. If we could work with the rest of the animals on earth do you think we could save the earth? If only there were a way to communicate with such different species… (slight sarcasm). If we could successfully communicate with them, would the animals forgive us? Would they still work with us? Or maybe our egos be too ignorant to listen to someone so different from us. Call me crazy, but we’re running out of options on earth. It’s pretty insane that the threat of human extinction could trigger us to realize that we should show more respect and equality toward other animals. This includes listening to them when they try to speak up.  Evolution is an amazing thing, in time we will see what the future holds.

Currently, animals are being ignored. It is our responsibility to not only listen to them but to make sure their voice is heard. Whether it helps the human species or not, respecting animals is the right thing to do.

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