Thursday, June 14, 2012

Born To Be Special

Say you met three U's, each of whom thought it was superior to the others. You'd say, "That's silly, you're just a few U's, you might be different styles and colors but deep down you're really just U's."

It would seem pretty strange if you saw two dogs comparing tails, or the quality of their fur... or the resonance of their bark. Dogs look at each other and go "Oh, a dog," and then pick from an assortment of reactions like play or run away or sniff.  A dog doesn't care if another dog's nose is four feet long or if they're a six-thousand dollar prizewinning Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with a pedigree as long as your arm. When one dog meets another it just wants to know what their bum smells like.

But it's not remarkable at all when a person compares their appearance, abilities or actions to our own. We expect it. As superior beings we are entitled to have differences, to be special; not only from other life forms but from one another. It's in our contract. To be unique – right down to our fingerprints.

People are unique in, oh, so many ways. It's entirely logical: we are different from everyone else, therefore we are special and therefore valuable. In fact, the rulebook states we're not allowed to just be a human being just like other human beings. There are several potential reasons:
  1. As human beings we all have a duty; a role to play. We have a responsibility to make the world a better place, or to conquer our enemies or to be a parent or a kid or to become rich and famous... the list is endless. A role gives us purpose.
  2. We need to be distinctive and special. We're white or black or jewish or protestant or catholic or rich or poor or gay or straight or dressed in designer fashions or in rags or plain-looking or a humahuma. Our distinction gives us a history and perspective.
  3. We want things to make sense. From birth we're trained not to stop at level one identification (what are you). We take it to level two (what are you good for). Being able to evaluate gives our lives order and understanding.
And if for some reason we were to wake up one morning and forget what makes us unique, why, we'd all definitely be in trouble. We'd be in full-fledged identity crisis mode. Our individual roles and pompousness and expertise and value would be lost to the world. We wouldn't know we were stinking rich or ugly and our winning score in Call of Duty MW3 wouldn't mean anything. We probably wouldn't have religious conflicts or wars about people being better than other people. Money would be meaningless, the economy would tank, banks would crumble, shops would close and we'd just give stuff to each other. No one would starve, be homeless or feel unloved. We'd just be one messy mass of mankind.

And we'd be no better than dogs. Eating, sleeping, playing together and (shudder) having fun.


  1. :) But my dog does have a life's purpose. She's looking out for my emotional happiness, protecting our boundaries, the prewash cycle for the dishes, and my exercise coach. Perfect dog, not interchangeable with other dogs!

    1. Perhaps your dog thinks it's a human bean.

  2. I think she revels in her dog-ness :)

  3. Great, now I want to be a dog. : ) But seriously, can't we be special and APPRECIATE everyone's uniqueness? I always thought that was the cool part - because how utterly boring it would be if we were all the same. The tendency to compare and judge is where the downer treads (and none too softly, eh!).

    1. Don't tell anyone, but I'm a mutt you know :o)