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Chatterbox: To behold the written word


There are miracles we are part of every minute which, because of their ubiquity and simplicity, somehow, go mostly unnoticed – like, reading.

It’s a simple act that’s performed, continually, around the world. For some reason, yesterday, the act of reading made me realize something simple, yet epic: humans are wonderful.

To our own misfortune, in our daily haste, we forget to remember how amazing we are. The brotherhood we were designed to demonstrate and the creativity and tenacity that make us great should make us one unified, awesome species. Without competition, we would combine all our personal resources to enhance the world hive … yes, hive (Bees are also amazing, directing each other miles away to flowers with a shake of their stinger but, while we can do that too, through writing, and as far as we know, bees can’t do brain surgery).

So, all this came from the sudden realization of what reading is. Of course, reading is just the cold draft from the tip of the iceberg of the accomplishments of the human species. How many of us ever realize what humans, as a social group, are equipped to do? Forget our physiology, which is a masterpiece, and the fact that we’ve learned to understand it and maintain it even when it’s under attack from invisible invaders. For now, let’s just look at reading, as one single part of human existence.

All around the globe, from street signs to the classics, it’s a wonder which we simply take for granted. Still, to someone who doesn’t possess this simple yet epic skill, it’s a mystery and a highly coveted gift. We can take a vision, an idea, a stray conjuring from our imagination and put it clearly into someone else’s mind. Squiggles and dots, in over six thousand world-wide varieties, can bring us “The Odyssey,” “Gone With the Wind,” the Bible and the Koran and help us share the infinite workings of the human body with a person on the other side of the planet.

Isn’t it incredible that we can look at a pre-scribed set of shapes and, with them, succinctly and completely communicate complicated thought in finite detail? It’s a simple act we perform all day, every day without consideration, yet, it’s a revelation. The exemplary accuracy of our communication is what separates man from other animals.

So, though it could seem obvious and trite, or serious and profound, one would suspect that a species which created thousands of different languages around the world from squiggles and sounds, manages mass agriculture in a variety of climates, has mapped the globe and the migratory patterns of the animals on its land and in its oceans, sequenced DNA, and can perform brain surgery by robot could, somehow, solve world hunger and live in peace. The truth, many of us know, is that we can. Absolutely. Indeed, we already do it, in limited landscapes – our neighborhood or kibbutz – every day, around the world.

Still, we also know that the human species has a flaw called ego. The need for some humans to feel superior to others is, perhaps, because we need to separate ourselves from the other billions of people on the planet. Yet, the very humble and beneficent also stand out from the crowd, don’t they? The prophets, the heroes, the brilliant, the caring, and they who remain strong in the fight for greatest good, all, also, leave a mark.

As an intelligent planetary population, it is our responsibility not only to seek a common goal for the survival and benefit of all of the planet’s species, but to work toward achieving it with as little damage as possible. Falling under the spell of any Svengali in an ego driven pursuit of self-promotion, dictatorial reign seeking power, money and fame is not just dangerous, it’s deadly.

In the effects of such a mixed company, our best advantage is to keep our heads, and use our words. We are a planet filled with brothers and sisters with huge intellect and an incredible and intense ability to communicate finite information succinctly. We’ll do best if we prioritize keeping a worldwide vision of humanity as a whole in mind.

Humans are such a work of wonder and we can work wonders together. So say the squiggles on the page around the world; ergo, we best mind our quills. Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Let’s hope he was right, and with every word we utter, let’s remember what incredible things we humans can do.