Because I like his/her comment so much, and I’m a /. lurker

Originally from slashdot by squizzar

Why are we _supposed_ to care about other species? Surely that we do in any way is just a trait of humanity. We could be like viruses, causing disease and death with no other intent than to reproduce. We could be the ultimate disease, destroying everything in our own self interest if that was our innate desire. The whole concept that we should care about other species or our impact on our environment is entirely of our own creation. To ascribe it to some higher goal is still to ascribe it to some higher human goal. To act like the reasons for preserving the environment and life on this planet are anything other than selfish is misguided. We want to preserve life on the earth for our own self interests: because we depend on it (and because we think it is cute). We want to preserve the environment because we depend on it (and because we think it is pretty). These are the only reasons to protect the world that make sense: because we want to protect ourselves and our children. This is a desire that has kept us going throughout millenia.

Not everyone has the same balance of these desires, and hence not everyone is as concerned about protecting the environment as they are about having shiny toys. They may like the taste of fishes a bit more than seeing them swim. This leads to some inevitable conflict, and the large debates, and a lot of hair pulling from the people who have strong opinions (probably because of strong desires) on each side who find it unbelievable that everyone doesn’t prioritise things in the same way they do.

The attitude that we have some ‘higher purpose’ or that everything else is somehow more sacred than us is a strange to me. It’s like people feel guilty about their own existence. I think that is has some of the same overtones of religion – that you are imperfect, you are inferior, you are sinful and therefore you should feel bad, and worship this, and promise not to do this list of things, promise to do this other list of things. The original sin becomes the carbon footprint. The objects of worship are trees and rocks and animals. You should forgo warmth and meat and convenience because they are an affront to your belief. And if you really get upset you should forget all respect for your fellow men and go and cause destruction in the name of your beliefs. Like all religions there are great benefits for many involved. And there is also the way it is used to control people, and to justify actions against fellow human beings, and often against everything you claim to stand for. The attitude of ‘humans are the nastiest bunch of bastards on the planet, we should hate ourselves’ is the first step of the crazy thinking towards things starting to get blown up (and peoples grandparents being exhumed). Destroy the infidel, for he does not share our beliefs as we are told to believe them.

Back to the original point though – humans are just one more example of life. Another species. Another part of the universe. We are not here for some higher purpose. We exist, like all life, simply to exist. That we are conscious of this, that we can analyse it in this way makes us one the most fascinating creatures on the planet. But we are what we are, and if we fuck it up and destroy ourselves, we will know who to blame. It would be a great shame, but you’re not going to get me to start hating myself because I accept my own and others fallibility. We may be able to achieve much more, but we may not. What will be will be, so live your life because you can, simply live, that is all.

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