Humans are the smartest creatures, aren't they?
For one thing – two, actually – wolves and bears and hamsters don’t get together and form organizations such as Rotary or religions and they don’t start wars, although they do squabble occasionally and might even eat each other up when hungry or provoked.
Now some folks will say that religion is a great thing, but just so long as it is their own particular religion you are talking about. When they encounter someone who believes a different religion is better, well down through the ages that has been when the trouble started. That hasn’t changed even in this era of enlightenment.
Or take war. For those who actively participate in war there are times when it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. According to Jackie the prime example of that came in a story I told her about a lot of people going at it hot and heavy in the middle of a forest. There didn’t seem to be any special reason for choosing that particular place because there wasn’t anything of great value nearby, just a lot of trees and big rocks. Very likely it was one of those I-don’t-want-it-but-you-can’t-have-it situations. So anyway, all these rifles and machine guns were making a terrific racket and the birds and little animals living there probably weren’t a bit happy about it.
Now anybody with a grain of sense knows that when something like that is going on it is best to let those taking part settle the matter on their own. With men in different uniforms only twenty or thirty yards apart and tall trees everywhere it would be downright foolish for someone a little way off to start dropping mortar shells on them. After all, shells and bombs and rockets don’t really care what uniform a man might be wearing or even if he’s wearing one at all. You might say they are equal opportunity killers.
So naturally some officer safely removed from the scene decided to fire a few mortar shells right in the middle of things and just to make sure they caused the most possible trouble he made them white phosphorous shells. That’s really nasty stuff that can cause a pinhead size burn that in a few minutes is as big as a quarter. And it can set fire to things, which it did.
So there everybody was trying to shoot somebody else they had never seen before when suddenly there were flames all around because the forest had caught fire. Hard as it might be to believe, common sense set in. It was like everybody at the same instant decided the hell with the war, let’s put out the damn fire. If they didn't nobody was going to get out alive and that didn’t seem like too sensible a solution to war or anything else. So Germans leaped up and took off their tunics and began beating at the flames. Americans leaped up and took off their fatigue jackets and began beating at the flames. Surprisingly, it worked.
With only an occasional wisp of smoke curling up here and there it dawned on people that the fellow standing nearby was from a different army. This was sort of embarrassing so men began smiling and nodding, even saying a few words that half of those present didn’t understand. So for a minute or two everybody was friendly as could be and if there had been a few cases of beer handy it would have continued that way for quite some time.
When all the pleasantries had been exchanged and tunics and jackets were in place again, people wandered back to where they had been before the excitement started. Once everybody was settled in and ready, those present began shooting at each other again.
Now doesn’t that make you wonder if it’s true that humans are smarter than other forms of life? It has always made me wonder.