Speaking in signs, showing love
In the same week that Dar died, I watched the documentary "Project Nim," produced by BBC and broadcasted by HBO, which tells the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who in the '70s was the focus of a pioneering experiment that aimed to prove that chimpanzees could learn to communicate if they were raised as a human baby. The attempt to try to make a chimp turn to human leads us to a question: why do we see other animals as inferior beings to the point of having to humanize them to show respect?
It is striking the anthropocentric view towards everything and everyone. We are arrogant in thinking that we are superior and more important than other beings! We treat even chimpanzees, our evolutionary brothers, as totally inferior beings to the point of keeping them locked up in ridiculous zoos, for example. Even if they demonstrate “human” attitudes (love, affection, fear, jealousy, empathy, etc.), it seems that no one wants to admit that they are also rational beings, intelligent, with feelings.
Speaking specifically about the learning of sign language, I understand that there is a duality. Firstly, wanting to show that they can learn to communicate with us and each other - a fact that is consummated by Nim, Washoe and her descendants. The second insists on fight against the acceptance, saying that something is limited between them.
No matter it is limited or not. One should realize that it only admitted intelligence and feelings if chimpanzees express human characteristics! Who said it should be "fully human" to be considered gifted with intelligence and feeling? Another inconsistency of the human species, which lives up killing in wars and struggles to defend fake liberties and rights, but cannot look at their own evolutionary relatives.
Another aspect to be discussed is the deprivation of primates living with other individuals of the same species. It would be valid to keep them isolated to prove something that many would never recognize?
It is interesting to show that they can understand and communicate through the sign language. But what is the real value of it? There is no doubt that there is communication between them and us. Whether through gestures, sounds, a look or even specific language. The fact is that the large amount of arguments is not enough if human eye insist on not seeing. While we judge them as inferior beings, such efforts will not be worth anything. We have to open our minds and hearts to understand and accept the facts.
The concept of evolution itself is totally relative. Cognitively we may even what there is of most advanced in evolution, after all, we speak several languages, we write, we read. But if we compare the reproductive capacity of a bacterium with ours, for example, we are totally inferior beings. Even though the "human species". Bacteria can reproduce, for example, every 20 minutes, increasing significantly the population (and causing infections). An extreme example, but it serves to analyze our arrogance and realize that we are not all that we feel.
Thus, would we be the culmination of all evolutionary sense? Or rather, we would be the only ones endowed with feelings and worthy of respect because of this "humanity"? In the XXI century, and it is more than time to reassess our superiority and respect all living beings on this planet, which is home to all. And more than ever, we have to accept that we are just another species inserted into the earth, and that we must fight for the balance of this whole system. Let us use our rationality to benefit all and not just for our selfishness.
MSc. Luiz Fernando Leal Padulla