The Homo Sapiens Essay

2101 words - 8 pages

Homo sapiens: Latin for “wise man” or “knowing man”. But most people instead identify themselves as humans or people. What makes someone a person? For some a human is a being who looks, talks, breathes, eats and drinks like they do; a mirror image of themselves. For others a human is a being with emotions; capable of feeling hurt, regret, love, happiness etcetera. The scientific definition of a human is the only living species in the Homo genus, with a highly developed brain that is capable of abstract problem solving, reasoning, introspect and communication through diverse spoken and gestured languages. If humans are all highly developed, intelligent species then why does the human race still discriminate amongst their own species? Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and Mary Louise Pratt’s essay Arts of the Contract Zone identify and confront the racism and the dehumanization humans as a species seem to continue to struggle overcoming. Each text demonstrates how the human species continues to view other societies as barbaric or savage simply because the society is different than their own. If humans all originated in Africa over 500,000 years ago, then why have Western cultures continued to colonize Africa and even use Africans as slaves? The texts show that humans discriminate and dehumanize amongst each other both consciously and subconsciously.
For thousands of years humans have fought against each other claiming to be fighting for the common good. But what happens when the line between is blurred? There is no real black and white definition for good and evil. Humans have fought repeatedly throughout history for what they perceive to be righteous, killing anyone who stands in their way. Psychologists have observed that veterans of war have harder times adapting back to the lives they left behind because they have been trained to dehumanize those around them. By dehumanizing those they come into contact with, they are able to kill other human beings without a moment’s hesitation. But in order to dehumanize another human being the veteran, as psychologists have observed in several studies, slowly begins to become more aggressive; each side, the victim and aggressor, retaliate against each other. Once the veteran begins to adapt back into society they begin to humanize. By humanizing they slowly begin to realize what they had done during war and for many veterans this causes traumatic lifelong psychological instability just like Okonkwo experienced in Things Fall Apart.
Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart addresses the issue of dehumanization through his character Okonkwo. Humans as a species are highly emotional driven by fear, love and hatred. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo is driven by hatred and the fear of not becoming his father. He feels ashamed of the weakness his father displayed making him believe that emotions are a sign of weakness. The only emotion Okonkwo...

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