Below is a short discussion inspired by the episode “What It Means to be Human” from On Being with Krista Tippett.
Some of us believe that our intellect makes us superior to other creatures in this world. Jane Goodall says, however, that we are not much different from animals and plants. They are our brothers and sisters, and we are one in nature with them. Our intellect only makes us their “stewards.”
In this episode of On Being, Jane emphasizes that curiosity, empathy, and peaceful dialogue can help us treat animals and nature better. She also highlights how to put our intellect to good use.
- Be curious. Curiosity can lead us to better understand what is around us. When we ask questions, we can learn more about the phenomena that happen around us and understand the reason behind them. The more we ask, the more answers we can find. This can lead us to gain knowledge and wisdom on how to be better human beings.
- Have empathy. Looking closely at anything shouldn’t be accompanied by cold objectivity. Trying to understand something, especially in scientific observations, should be done with empathetic eyes. By doing this, we can acknowledge and interpret facts with a more human touch.
- Engage with people calmly. In solving problems, we should keep a cool head and identify its cause, instead of confronting and blaming others. This way, we can arrive at understanding one another, and from that, find ways to fix things.
- Use intellect with love and compassion. We can only fully use our developed intellect if we combine it with love and compassion. Knowing what to do and how to do it should be tempered with love and compassion. In doing so, we can confidently say that we are intelligent beings.
the distilld lessons
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by On Being with Krista Tippett's episode on “What It Means to be Human” featuring Jane Goodall.
Jane Goodall’s interest in studying chimpanzees started as a simple curiosity for animals when she was a child.
Curiosity allows us to understand why and how things happen. We can gain knowledge and wisdom by it, so keep asking.
Don’t let fear suppress your curiosity. Understand that the process of discovery involves risk-taking.
Combine curiosity with empathy. We can only discover untainted truths if we assess not only with intelligence but also with empathy.
Understanding any phenomena, even in scientific settings, requires empathy, instead of cold objectivity. Having this mindset can help us understand better the inner workings of an animal’s mind.
Humans and animals are alike in many ways. One similarity is nonverbal cues like holding hands, kissing, and hugging.
Unlike what some people think, animals are capable of thoughts and emotions as humans are. They can also make tools and form relationships like humans do.
It is our developed intellect that slightly sets us apart from animals. But this developed intellect only allows us to be their “stewards” – to be their caretakers. It doesn’t permit us to dominate them.
Our acts should not only reflect intellect but also love and compassion. What we do should not cause harm to other people, animals, or nature. Only when we do so can we truly say that we’re using our intelligence for good.
Conflicts and misunderstandings are best solved with a cool head. Avoid confronting and blaming people as this can only build more barriers.
- Keep an inquisitive mind. Stay aware of what happens around you. Explore other experiences that can enrich your knowledge. Understanding and experiencing new things can allow you to be more in touch with yourself and others.
- Encourage others’ curiosity. Be a person that encourages one’s love for knowledge and wisdom, be it a family, a friend, or a colleague. You’ll never know what they’ll learn and what you can learn with them along the way.
- Be gentle to animals. We’re not so different from them. They are capable of thoughts and emotions themselves. Treat them with kindness.
- Practice empathy. The golden rule that we should only do to others what we want them to do to us is a cliché for a reason: It makes for a better world. When we do not harm others, we avoid causing more pain to the world.
- Be calm when addressing conflicts. Fixing misunderstandings can be a difficult process. But engaging the other person calmly not only opens more possibilities of addressing the problem, but you can also avoid causing more harm.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.