What separates man from beast?
Both have a need for food and water. Both seek companionship from others and have the innate desire, and necessity, to reproduce. Man walks on two legs, most beasts walk on four. So other than the obvious physical traits, what is the defining factor that separates the two (apart from the soul)?
It is free will.
But with all the differences between man and beast, one thing remains a constant — food and water.
In The Alchemist, a shepherd boy tends to a flock. He notices that the sheep never have to make any decisions, that the only things that concerned the sheep was food and water.
Food and water.
Man is often compared to sheep because of our compliant nature. But the thing that separates man from beast is the soul and free will. We have the capacity to make choices. We can choose our destiny and shape our path to a much larger degree than we think. But the pressures of the world take over and we get stuck in our jobs, our mortgages, our debt. Our entertainment. Food and water.
Throughout history, man has always sought things. He sought out far away lands, and often took them by force from anyone who opposed him. He sought for control over people, telling them what to do, how to think, and what to believe. He sought after knowledge in the stars and in science, thus propelling the imagination and sparking innovation. He sought for the reason of why we are here and for what purpose. That search continues to this day.
Early man was barbaric. He took whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. The primal side of man drove him to think and act the way he did. It still does today, though to a much lesser degree because of modern society. In essence, early man was similar to the beasts, acting on impulse and desire. Take. Reproduce. Food and water.
Now we look at the modern man. We have unlimited knowledge of the past and present. We live in an age like never before. Anything is possible, yet we are content with seeking only food and water. Sometimes we seek companionship from the flock, and may eventually find a mate, but we don’t want to make any decisions that lie beyond our comfort level. We know the shepherd (the economical and social system set in place), will take care of us. So we sit back, relax, take our time, enjoy life and never yearn for anything more.
It is not man’s purpose to live only for himself.
When civilization began, early man had a purpose. Other than provide for the village and the family, his purpose was to populate the earth and expand his territory. He was to conquer new lands and spread his seed far and wide. He was designed to take. Selfish nature was required to survive.
Fast forward to today. It is ironic that we are living in one of the most self-centered times in history, despite our advancements in society. Never before has self-love been so prevalent among the masses. This is only going to get worse with the development of technologies like virtual reality. But man’s purpose today is not intended to be self-serving. Because of our advancements in society, and the infinite knowledge that can be had at the push of a button, our destiny can now be shaped however we want. We have the knowledge and can develop the skills to redesign our lives into something of our choosing. It is our responsibility to find this. It is our purpose to cultivate empathy and be more mindful of our purpose. It is our duty to give back. Serve others instead of ourselves. Help create a better future with our gifts and talents.
Or, be content with just seeking food and water.
The choice is yours. Your life is yours. What are you going to do with it?
“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” – Tony Robbins