Humans are among the most successful animals on Earth. We have transitioned from a few hundred thousand hunter-gatherers to billions of people spread across the planet.
However, we recognize in other animals that share our planet many of the same traits that we ourselves have. We see the loyalty of the dog. The tool-using cleverness of the crow. The playfulness of the dolphin. We see so much of ourselves in gorillas and chimpanzees that it suggested we have a common ancestor.
And yet, we seem quite different from any other animal. We have a manual dexterity that is uncommon. Our language is more highly developed than most. We learn about and manipulate our environment in ways that have transformed our lives completely.
There are many ways we can look at the animal kingdom, and draw comparisons or contrasts. Which ones do you find most compelling? Are we more like our animal cousins than we want to believe? Or are we somehow unique, for better or worse?
How are humans like other animals? How are they different?
Related questions: What do we have in common? How have we changed? Is it a cruel world?
Do you get your energy from yourself, or from others? Do you think you are an introvert or an extrovert? Is one better than the other?
Share why of you wish.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program just delivered “The Fourth National Climate Assessment” to Congress and the President. While the report does not present a pretty picture, it concludes with tangible actions that Americans can collectively — nationally, regionally, and locally — take to mitigate our situation as well as adapt to changes that are already certain to happen.
The report begins: “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future — but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.”
With us already seeing the impacts of climate change, what is keeping us from taking action to sustain the planet? We are experiencing more intense forest fires and hurricanes, disappearing coastlines, and changing climate zones. If not for the sake of the planet, what about for current younger generations who must live on a less hospitable globe?
What! What will it take?
Related questions: Now or Later? What Do You Revere? What Are You Doing to Make the World a Better Place? How Can You Help? What Are Our Responsibilities to Others? What Is the Greatest Problem Facing Humanity?
With a holiday named “Thanksgiving”, it is only logical to ponder giving thanks. There are many different ways one might show their gratitude.
The origin of the holiday comes from a feast to celebrate a successful harvest. The feast part remains, although most people are not involved with a harvest.
However, eating a meal is not giving thanks. During that meal (or before or after), you might stand up and express your gratitude for your good fortune. Acknowledging beneficial things that have happened to you is a good start.
Some people volunteer, or donate to charity, or in some way help those less fortunate. Others might spend time with loved ones, or contact them in some other way.
As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is worth a few moments to think about how you will mark the holiday.
How do you show thanks?
Related questions: What does it mean to be thankful? How important is ceremony? What makes a tradition? What do you like to cook?
In some ways, we exalt the ceremonies in our lives. Between following a prescribed set of actions and repeating certain words, a ritual can make us feel grounded in reality or soaring among the stars. A ceremony, whether it is religious or secular in nature, cements our place in a community.
However, our word choices sometimes suggest that they are not so important. For example, if a role is “largely ceremonial” it means it has few if any actual duties or responsibilities.
It seems that we often treat ritual as a sacred event, but one that is divorced from everyday relevance. And yet, everyone is surrounded by ceremonial activities, often in many different walks of life.
So which is it? Do we live our lives according to the rituals set forth from those who have come before? Or do the ceremonies we attend have at most some symbolic place in our lives, but no real significance?
How important is ceremony?
Related questions: What makes a tradition? What does it mean to be thankful? Why do we feel the need to belong? What do we have in common? What makes a community?