I'm reading a book about the brain (again, I know--I do this a lot). The author contends that somewhere along the line, humans took a huge evolutionary step that resulted in something unique to the earth: a creature that can consider its own being. It is that, he contends, not language or opposable thumbs or use of tools or whatever you've heard before, that makes us so special. He says we might imagine our computers taking off their covers and turning their webcams into their interior workings as a metaphor for what we as humans do to get to know ourselves better.
I am intrigued by this idea and by all that goes along with it. It's a very cool thing we do, although it results in both bad and good knowledge. We now know that the brain is amazingly complex, adaptable, and plastic, but we also know it can screw us up royally when something goes wrong.
What amazes me is the number of people who don't seem inclined to use the three pounds of amazing power they carry around with them: the people who accept everything they are told; the people who don't read; the people who actually seem proud of their ignorance. They're so open to manipulation from advertisers (Did you even THINK about whether you need that product?), religious zealots (Are you SURE you want to follow that line of non-logic?), and, especially this year, political rhetoric (Do you REALLY think things are going to change if you vote X into office?)
Having these wonderful brains that can examine, process, and filter isn't enough. We have to use them. So maybe the title of this piece should be "Why Some Humans Are Really Cool People, and the Rest Remained in the Primordial Ooze".