Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Daniel Thwaites | God, I thank thee

Published:Sunday | September 8, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Daniel Thwaites

Due to excellent writings by my colleague, Dr Michael Abrahams, I now walk with a fork, worry about ‘Mackerel’s’ mental health, refuse to breed for a john crow, praise dark-skinned women, and a host of other socially worthwhile mini-projects. But he has nothing to teach me regarding religious matters, the Bible, or human sexuality, because his grand scheme of the world is a recipe for disaster.

I’m amazed that his column ‘Humans – the biggest jerks on the planet’ passed without retort, for it is the purest expression of misanthropic virtue-signalling and nihilistic performative ‘wokeness’ published in a while.

These general tendencies crop up in lots of commentary in media, particularly as people adopt intellectual fashions from the more decrepit and decadent parts of America and Europe. However, because Dr Abrahams is a good writer, he lays it out with admirable clarity. Reread his piece.

To summarise, Abrahams considers we humans a pestilence. He doesn’t like us. This isn’t irony or satire.

After unfavourably comparing humans to cockroaches, he tries out a comparison with mosquitoes. Though harmful, they “make great food for dragonflies, frogs, birds and bats. So they have some use.” Humans, however, bring nothing to the bird and bat table.

We kill other creatures. We cause other creatures to kill other creatures. We destroy the planet. We pollute the air, the land and the sea. We know about climate change and do nothing.

We kill our own species. We dislike and discriminate against each other based on ethnicity, skin colour, nationality, gender, religious belief, political affiliation, sexual orientation and other characteristics.

So he is “convinced that the third rock from the sun would be far better off without Homo sapiens … [and] it would be a way cooler planet, literally and figuratively, without us.”

Induce happiness

Now Abrahams is a talented comedian and a thoughtful (in the traditional village-atheist lineage) member of the intellectual class. These preoccupations ought to induce happiness and contentment, not professional pessimism. As an old attorney used to tell me whenever I thought of complaining: “This sure beats digging ditches!” Plus, by profession he is a p*m-p*m inspector, which, again, I assumed would give him a brighter outlook on life.

Moreover, I note from other of his columnistic output that Abrahams (despite his excellent biblical names) is casually savage to traditionally religious people. That, I surmise, arises from the conceit of himself as avant-garde thinker. My simple point is that his rotten metaphysics needs serious upgrading.

Because if Abrahams truly thinks what he wrote, he should commit suicide. Not to mention that it runs explicitly counter to the ethic and practice of medicine, which must, at some core level, hold human life as valuable.

That said, I don’t foresee an Abrahams suicide because, thankfully, his practice tells me that deep down he doesn’t believe what he says. But then he should consider why he says things he doesn’t really believe.

Furthermore, and significantly, even in the prison of what he thinks he thinks, he acknowledges a way humans can clamber up the value chain to the cockroaches:

“While some of us work assiduously to enhance the existence of our fellow human beings, there are some who have dedicated their lives to building bigger and better weapons of mass destruction … .”

Some of “us”? Aha! Now I understand. The good people.

“God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are … .”

Aaackchyually, few men truly hate themselves. Typically we cherish our projects and desires with extraordinary tenacity, and this self-love, traditionally thought of as requiring restraint, is nowadays celebrated as the highest ideal among the Oprah crowd and New Age guru set.

This is not to say that vast amounts of self-loathing don’t coexist with inordinate self-love. In fact, they are a pair. For the men filled with pride (the medievalist’s primal vice) who worship the God within are doomed to detest themselves. For who knows better in your secret heart of hearts that you are unworthy of worship?

One more thing about Abrahams’ detestation of our little species. ‘Evil’ and ‘wrongdoing’, ostensibly the penchant of humans that disturbs Abrahams so much, are not categories to which the irreligious are truly entitled, except as mere conventions. How are there rules without a Rulemaker, law without a Lawgiver? Yet the secularists clutch on to these categories with evangelical fervour.

Persistent species

Anyhow, I would propose to Abrahams (and his fellow travellers) a completely different way of looking at our grubby but persistent species.

We are pretty clever animals who have barely managed to scratch our way out of the muck and mire. In just 10,000 years of civilisation, we have shifted away from wanting to kill anyone who doesn’t belong to our immediate small band, to where people coexist, miraculously, in large multi-ethnic societies in relative peace. Racism, ethnocentricity, and the dear love of slavery that existed globally until a couple centuries ago are now near-universally condemned.

We’ve finally innovated systems to replace force by exchange (the free market), and we’ve dragged most of our fellows out of dire want and poverty. We need to get better at cleaning up after ourselves, something that bright minds and great effort is being directed towards.

But we few – we enlightened few – aren’t entitled to contempt, either for our forebears or fellow travellers. Instead, we owe many of those who went before deep gratitude, even if they didn’t hold voguish views about the environment or whatever excites us now. And our contemporaries, even the troglodytic brutes who make war, enjoy ‘the missionary position’, hunt animals, use plastics, read the Bible, burn carbon fuels, believe in gods or a God, we owe at least empathy.

We need to do better, for sure. But all in all, that’s not too shabby for a two-legged hairless ape. And any nihilistic philosophy that says it would be better had we, individually or collectively, never been born, is not the product of love for mankind or the planet, however much you cross-dress it up. It’s hatred.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.