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The Damned Human Race By Mark Twain

2145 words - 9 pages

In Mark Twain’s essay The Damned Human Race, he states that “it obliges [him] to renounce

[his] allegiance to the Darwinian theory of the Ascent of Man from the Lower Animals; since it now

seems plain to [him] that the theory ought to be vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and

truer one to be named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals” (Zengardner.com). However, this

new theory would not be truer, it would not be true at all. Man has not descended from animals, we are

not damned, and we are certainly not incorrigible. Instead, we are rightfully in our place above the other

animals and are entirely redeemable.

Twain first makes the point that human beings are wasteful. He demonstrates this through a

story about an English earl who wished to go hunting to provide food to store up. He and his hunters set

out and had a marvelous time of it. That day, the men killed seventy-two buffalos but only ate a portion

of one of them and left the other seventy-one untouched. Admittedly, this is a very good story to use in

support of his thesis. However, one could also point out the lifestyle of the Native Americans who would

find such behavior repulsive. Thomas E. Mails studied the Native Americans for many years. In his book

The Mystic Warrior, Mails states that “the buffalo’s habits and kinds were studied intensely, and in time

the Indians put virtually every part of the beast to some utilitarian use” (Mail 188). He goes on to show a

visual aide labeling each part of the buffalo and listing the numerous ways that each part was used. For

example, the buckskin alone was used for moccasin tops, cradles, clothing, tipi covers, quivers, gun

cases and many more items needed by the Indians for daily life. The horns were used for cups, spoons,

toys. The Indians also used the buffalo’s rawhide, hair, hooves and feet, tail, skull, muscles, brains,

tongue, beard, bladder, bones, dung, and stomach. This is an example of a people that were clearly not

wasteful, going so far as to study these animals in order to use them more efficiently.

For Twain’s second point he states that “many men who have accumulated more millions of

money than they can ever use have shown a rabid hunger for more, and have not scrupled to cheat

the ignorant and the helpless out of their poor servings in order to partially appease that appetite”

(Zengardner.com). Once again Twain only points out the negative features of some people and applies

them to the species as a whole. A blogger by the screen name jcmayer truthfully writes that “there

are many millionaires who help people in need, free of charge, with no strings attached” (seekyt.com).

For example: Bill and Melinda Gates through their foundation, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen

Degeneres, and Brad and Angelina Jolie’s Make It Right Foundation. In addition are Pauletta and Denzel

Washington through the Family Gifted Scholars Program and numerous athletes such as...

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