Why Humans Are Different From Any Other Species

The Mayan civilization self-destructed. For some reason, this is totally fascinating to me.



The Mayan civilization self-destructed. For some reason, this is totally fascinating to me. So the Mayans were smart people. Yet, the Mayan civilization self-destructed through a combination of civil war, overexploitation of the rain-forest, drought, overpopulation and malnutrition.cutting-edge The Mayan civilization self-destructed.

For some reason, this is totally fascinating to me. After all, despite what is portrayed in Mel Gibson’s excellent movie Apocalypto, the Mayans weren’t exactly a bunch of savages. Sure, they performed human sacrifices. But they also had a sophisticated writing system, knew math and astrology and had complex calendars. They also built pyramids all over Central America, without the help of the wheel, horses and...slaves.

So the Mayans were smart people. Yet, the Mayan civilization self-destructed through a combination of civil war, overexploitation of the rain-forest, drought, overpopulation and malnutrition.

 

 

As I was pondering, sipping a drink on a white sandy beach (yes, CE in Mexico can be tough), I noticed that humans are still very good at self-destruction. Not convinced? The beach is actually a great place to observe our fellow humans in action. Let’s count the ways people self-destruct:

•  Drinking too much (for the record, the drink I was sipping was non-alcoholic)
•  Eating too much
•  Extreme tanning—or plain burning
•  Smoking—of any sort
•  Doing drugs
•  Casual, extramarital or unprotected sex (who knew I’d talk about sex in a blog for VPN readers?)

Admittedly, this list can be argued with. Comparing self-destruction of one human being with self-destruction of an entire civilization is a stretch. Then again, some of these actions are reaching epidemic proportions.

My point is that humans seem to be the only species that will go to great lengths to hurt itself. Can you name one single other animal species that self-destructs?

You may have heard about a new trend among teenagers, which is to implant paper clips and other sharp objects under their skin. It’s called “self-embedding.” But I digress. This blog would be 10 pages long if we start discussing harm caused to oneself because of fashion, peer pressure or mental illness.

All of the above examples involve human beings hurting themselves physically. Let’s go one step further.

How about buying a Hummer when you really can only afford a Civic—or a bus ticket? Or buying a McMansion when you really can only afford a condo—or a rental? How about buying all kinds of perceived necessities on credit, with maxed out “plastic”? Similarly poor decisions have led countless families to bankruptcy in the recent past.

On a larger scale, poor decisions have led numerous businesses, including banks, car makers...and governments, to bankruptcy.

Interestingly, the tagline of the movie Apocalypto is a quote by Will Durant, a contemporary American writer and historian, author of “The Story of Civilization.”

The quote? “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, Pa. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together.”

http://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/images/vpn-tab-image/Mayan-Chichen-Itza-300px.jpg3/19/2012 2:52 PM

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