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Being Human

One of the coolest things about being a human in this day and age is that it is very unlikely that you will be hunted down and eaten. There are many causes for death – natural calamities, accidents, disease, homicide, suicide and old age – to mention a few. None of them involve being caught by the neck, killed, torn asunder and having your entrails eaten.

No one worries about being charged by a wild boar or ripped apart by a lion while sitting in their living room. Contrast your life with that of a fish in the deep sea or a goat at your neighborhood butcher. Very few animals make it to old age. It can’t be fun to be a bird on a branch, nervously on the lookout for a swift eagle or a pesky hunter, and struggling to make it alive through each day.

We humans lead a charmed existence. Life started miraculously on this planet a long time back. From an accidental spark came millions and millions of forms of life. Out of those, a huge majority of which has already been wiped out, we won the lottery. Somewhere along the line, when we went from being hunters to gatherers, we got ourselves out of the food chain. We’re no longer food for lions and jaguars and bears. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

That’s not all. Things have gotten much better. There aren’t ghastly kings and priests flogging us, burning us at stakes, beheading or hanging us for blasphemy and other nonsensical reasons, except in a few countries inhabited by those who aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. Instead, there is a remarkable set of people, systems and institutions around the world working to keep us alive and healthy. People in Africa are being saved from malaria by Bill Gates. Governments hand out freebies. Doctors save lives. Be it an Ebola outbreak or an earthquake, the entire world rushes to help. Every day, thousands of scientists and researchers quietly go about solving problems and finding ways to make us healthier and live longer. Our lives are protected and saved daily by those we’ve never even heard of.

It’s undeniable. We are living in a golden age.

Not much is asked of us in return. All that’s asked is we don’t injure or kill another human. That’s all it really takes to be human. As nice a guy Salman Khan may be otherwise, he violated that most basic humanitarian tenet. It will do him a world of good to reflect on this in jail.

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