Humans are not Cancer: There’s Still Hope for Our Existence.

Nigus Getahun, Columnist

These days, when one opens any news channel, they’re bombarded with negative images about what is happening in our society, of moments that show our faults, of events that seem to signal a demonization of ourselves into individuals who are simply resentful towards our own existence.

These moments seem to provide the message that humans are nothing more today than destructive beings destroying the world. Sometimes, I even hear words either accompanying or following these stories that express some nihilistic statement about our existence not mattering in this vast space and universe, and how the world would just be better without us.

It’s true to a certain extent that we’ve made errors in the past and even now we’re doing a lot that is destructive and unjust. There’s corruption, tribalism, destruction of the planet, inequality, war, and poverty. I’m not denying the existence of evil within our world – that would be too naive. However, the first noble truth of Buddhism is life is suffering, and that is probably the most profound truth there is. Life is hard and it’s filled with malevolence, we all know that.

What’s also true, is that there is goodness within us, and we’re making significant strides in solving the issues that exist in our world and we are bringing some kind of light into the world. We’re learning and changing as we move along, and we are doing so at a rapid rate. According to Gapminder, a Swedish non-profit that promotes sustainable global development, in the last 20 years, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has decreased by 50%. You probably didn’t know that. They also state that 80% of humans now have access to some kind of electricity. The list of all of the things we have accomplished as humans in just the past few decades is much longer, but we too often focus only on what is wrong.

We never talk about these accomplishments, these successes. There are scientists, doctors, artists, and others who are trying their hardest to bring some kind of change. Millions of people have contributed their whole existence to bringing light and benevolence into the world. However, we’re here generalizing our existence as some kind of cancer ravaging the world.

Maybe you can call me an optimist, but I truly believe there is an inherent goodness within us. I know we can be messy at times, and we’re flawed, but it’s important that we have a little bit of compassion and sympathy for ourselves. Most people are trying. Sure, we can talk about the malignance permeating our existence, but let’s also talk about the other side of it. Let’s talk about the part of our existence that is filled with a desire to love each other, care for one another and bring joy, art, beauty, and change into the world.