Progress.

The idea of progress has been heavily on my mind lately. I just went to my 5 year college reunion, which is surprising in itself since college was not the positive experience I think it is for most people (high school strangely was the more positive time). Reunions I think generally leave us questioning how far we’ve come as individuals and though I pretty much left without any substantial revelations (except that there were quite a few cool, like-minded people that I wish I had known better while I was actually stuck in small city Virginia), I did come away with the reaffirmation that I have indeed grown into a far better and cooler person than the self-conscious, de-energized version of me running around college those years ago.

This reunion also got me thinking about progress of humans in general. I have the benefit of living with a vegan who is a vegan simply because he believes that by this point, with all of our physical and mental development, we humans should have progressed past the need to subjugate animals and use them primarily as commodities. Yet after a few conversations with friends at this reunion (all of whom I have nothing but the greatest respect for), I realized that maybe most people still do believe that humans are just better than animals and not only can but should exert that dominance. In fact, animals don’t have the same depth of emotion or level of consciousness to know the difference. I personally do not believe even an ounce of this, but it’s an argument that constantly comes up in the discussion of animal rights: the word animal itself denotes a something less than. It’s a living thing, yes. But it doesn’t emote like a human and our inability to understand animals as deeply conscious and cerebral creatures prevents us from believing they are worth protecting or even respecting in many instances. The question I got in drunken jest was would I kill a puppy or kill a baby. I think the real question is can we think of real situation where we would really have to do one to save the other? What I came out of this whole thought exercise was that it’s a slow progress…and we haven’t even progressed beyond the subjugation and torture of fellow human beings, whose humanity and capacity for deep emotion we should in theory be able to understand pretty well.

Even if we as a human race are only making slow progress on this front, I as an individual am making lighting fast progress on what in this context is a more frivolous topic, my current knitting project:

My meshy Phildar sweater.

The pattern is nervousing because you set up a row at the beginning, then knit your dozens of centimeters and then drop stitches….so if you screw up…it’s all over.

It all worked out for the front piece and looks pretty fantastic so far.  And the pattern has delivered in teaching me new techniques: the twisted stitch to border dropped stitches.  It really tightens the stitch and makes for some really clean edges.

The end product will not be so fast coming I fear.  But soon.

I hope my dear knitting friends aren’t too annoyed that I made you go through my rant on the progress of humanity before getting to the knitting.  Maybe you were smart and just scrolled down to the pictures.

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One Response to “Progress.”

  1. Jens Says:

    This topic came up recently in class, not in puppy v. baby form but in something very similar, the ethics of animal testing. Of course human stem cells could and should be used where possible but there are some cases where a higher organism is necessary.

    The example that comes to mind is using monkeys to test sight and perception. It would be very difficult to get the clearance to use human subjects and humans can’t be shut in a box for hours on end.

    Of course there are other important things to consider like the suffering of these animal subjects, the fact that they have no choice in the matter (like human subjects) and whether we can use the ends to justify the means, etc. I’m a vegetarian biologist so I’m in pergatory. And oops, this got really long.

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