I. Most of our qualities are innate; nature triumphs over nurture.
It was Darwin’s belief that our changeable hearts,
our persistent whimsy is nothing but a fallacy born
of shallow observation. Free will has been found
wanting, paperthin, a ghost of the lazy intellect, that
staunches curiosity, curbs an ugly existentialism.
They’ve been proving this with wolves. Raise a
domesticated dog in your house, a spaniel, and he
sleeps at the foot of your four-poster, sits where you
command he sit. Raise a wolf in your home and
he lies awake at night running his tongue over his
sharpening teeth, chews the knobs off the
cabinets, eats all the bones out of the trash, and stalks
the neighbors’ pets, pushing his head into their cat
flaps and howling.
II. Humanity is not a natural or innate quality.
Perhaps this, too, is an accident of perception.
Underneath, there is a pattern, a clockwork of
subtle gears that approaches the appearance of a
needle on a moral compass: the swan floating
calmly on an undisturbed lake, yet pedaling
madly below the surface. Or it could be a rare gift
of chemical balance, that beautiful horizon where
insides and outsides align that disrupts the perfect
syllogism of genetic determination.
To prove this, we would need infinite time, and
infinite objectivity, the ability to observe everyone
from beginning to end. We would need a supercomputer,
tallying yeses and noes, zeros and ones: Is this
human? Is this human?
Front page image by JanetR3.