The Rise Of The Humanist

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The Rise Of The Humanist

13.7 billion years ago, the Universe began. For billions of years, particles swirled and danced through the immensity. Stars were born and stars died. From deep inside the depths of burning giants, carbon was spewed across the universe. The particles needed for the development of life, as we know it, accumulated on a tiny speck of a planet, orbiting around a small, insignificant star. For over 4 billion years, the tiny speck gave rise to various forms of life, primordial soups that would eventually churn out giant lizards to roam the planet for millions of years. One day, an even smaller, even more insignificant chunk of space rock collided with the tiny speck of a planet and the giant lizards ended up extinct, their 165 million year reign came crashing to an end.

Millions of years trickled by without the tiny speck noticing. Smaller creatures that had survived the mass extinction of the giant lizards, evolved and adapted to their new environment. For over 2 million years, an upright primate evolved, getting smarter and smarter, until one day 200,000 years ago, homo sapiens was born.

For thousands of years, these new and improved hominids knew nothing of each other or the world they lived in. They lived in small communities, relying on each other for survival. As they learned to communicate, they realized they could accomplish tasks much bigger than themselves. Cooperation was born and pyramids were built. Man had arrived.

Across the reaches of the tiny insignificant chunk of space rock, civilizations rose and fell. Time lingered on and eventually, man’s curiosity to know what lay beyond the rivers and the mountains swelled to a point of no return. Adventurers set out to chart the globe, bringing whole civilizations into contact with one another for the first time. As the humans began to interact, they began to exchange products and ideas. Their development increased and they began to build cities. Other humans from far and wide travelled to the cities to find jobs, or tasks given in exchange for money (an invention of conceptualized value). Soon, the humans wanted more of the value and worked harder to get it. Some chose to get it at the expense of others, and so the humans subjugated each other. Others chose to pay the humans for their work, and industry was born.

Soon, the humans grew greedy and took more than they needed. They spread far around the reaches of the globe, lapping up resources like a thirsty beast. They hoarded their value and used it to make them strong. They threatened those who aimed to take some. All the while, the tiny little speck of rock groaned and grimaced at having to give up its treasures. The insides of the speck were mined and the trees the speck grew to give the humans life, were cut down. The humans burned all of the specks treasures and then the shield against the burning heat of the little star began to deteriorate. Some humans got sick and so did the speck.

The humans wondered what they had done to deserve the wrath of the speck. Too late, they realized their greed and mistakes. They had pushed each other away in the quest for power. They had offended their fellow humans, the rare breed never before seen in the 13.7 billion year old universe. They fought wars and killed each other by the millions. They were raised to hate other humans who had what they wanted. Soon the humans were faced with a dying speck, the constant threat of war, and an unanswered question, what had they done to deserve their quick demise?

From deep inside their demise, came a rallying call. “You are one! Your differences are the beauty and gift of your species. You have slaughtered each other for being different but never celebrated each other for being the same. You are human, the only humans to have existed in the history of the universe. Your greed will bring you to your knees but your cooperation can build a legacy. The universe needs you to unlock its mysteries. You must help one another. So long as humans starve and perish while others roll in their riches, you will never succeed. You are as strong as you are weak.”

Those who heard, answered the call, and the humanist was born.

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It’s All Relative

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It's All Relative

Bouncing along the seldomly smooth roads of northern Tanzania, I kept my camera in hand. Alongside the packed dirt roads were young children running around chasing sheep and goats. I learned that kids were often put in charge of a flock and it was their responsibility to find new grasses to graze. To some it may seem unfair that these children are put to work so young, but they are receiving an education for the life they will know. They will learn to care for animals, the value of responsibility and where to find the greenest grass in a country often ravaged by drought.

I spent a couple of years living in Egypt, where I made a point of visiting some of the poorest regions. At first, the poverty seemed almost absurd, so unbelievable in its difference from my own life in Canada. An Egyptian friend, who shared a small apartment with three dogs and no furnishings taught me a valuable lesson, he told me “We don’t feel poor, this is a normal life.”

People don’t often realize that despite their own life feeling “normal”, it isn’t. There is no norm for how humans live. We are born into different environments and adapt accordingly, a blend of nature and nurture. The “poverty” in Egypt felt overwhelmingly surreal to me, but now as I walk down the snow covered sidewalks of Toronto, the affluence and excess feels just as surreal and doubly as absurd. After all, it’s all relative.