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