Which animal is the most compassionate?


We are better than we think we are

Is man really just a "fatal aberration of nature" that it wouldn't be a shame if he disappeared from the earth? No, says philosopher and bestselling author Michael Schmidt-Salomon: Because the biological and cultural development of our species shows that we have the potential to become ever better, ever more »humane«. An impressive, eye-opening plea for belief in humanity.

Book cover (with blurb, pdf)
Book cover (front only, jpg)
Preview of the publisher

Humans are the most compassionate, smartest, imaginative, humorous animals on the planet. He has produced works of art of breathtaking beauty and developed the most sophisticated methods to unravel the secrets of the universe. Never before has there been a living being that
took care of the sick and the weak so self-sacrificingly, who fought so tirelessly for freedom and justice - in spite of all defeats. Much has been written about the dark side of mankind, its sunny side mostly fell under the table. This book shows them: A declaration of love to our often misunderstood species.


Preface: Farewell to cynicism

It's so easy to be a cynic. There are endless reasons to despise humanity. Just take a look at history. Or the reality soaps that flicker across our screens day in and day out. Aren't those terribly right who describe humans as "fatal aberrations of evolution"? Wouldn't it be a blessing for the earth if it could finally rid itself of the "cancerous human race"? Should we even cry a tired tear after the "beast human"?

Sentences like these are easy for us to do. In the face of the myriad of pieces of evidence documenting our inadequacy, our delusional tendencies, our cruelty, how could we maintain faith in humanity? It is not without reason that cynicism is the great intellectual seduction for anyone seriously concerned with the history and present of our unfortunate species. Because it prevents the painful discrepancy between the grandiose ideals that we represent and the bitter realities that we generate by rejecting the noble ideals from the outset as utopian. Subjectively, this is quite a relief: Anyone who has already lost faith in humanity can no longer be disappointed by anything or anyone.

Because of his lack of illusions, the cynic appears mature, superior, serene, yes: reasonable - and yet cynicism is based on one total declaration of bankruptcy by reason, namely the conviction that reasonable arguments cannot change anything, absolutely nothing, in the course of events. To be a cynic means To surrender ahead of the irrationality of the worldin order not to have to face the actual challenges of being human in the first place. Why should one advocate “higher goals” when one has to assume that such an effort is never worthwhile? The cynical conscience is a gentle pillow: “Rien ne va plus!” - "Nothing works!" Giggle the self-satisfied bankrupts of reason - relieved that the burden of making history more humane has been taken off their shoulders.

Cynics are up one Eye blind, which is why they can only see the dark side of human existence. Tragically, this distortion of perception works in the sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Because who doesn't expect the situation to change for the better anyway can, will not do anything to ensure that they ever change for the better becomeconfirming the original, cynical assumption. A vicious circle.

Michelangelo was right: "The greatest danger for most of us is not that we strive for high goals and miss them, but that we set ourselves too low and achieve them." This applies to us as individuals, but also to the human species As a whole: If we underestimate our potential, we will not be able to develop it and we will be forced to do so under live our possibilities. Therefore, we should be careful not to belittle ourselves in a cynical way.

The best medicine against the anticipatory resignation of cynicism is to orientate oneself to those who have brought the best sides of humanity to light - and that is exactly what this text will be about: Themed my last book No power to the stupid the unbearable penetrance of human stupidity in the past and present, this is about the healing effect of human cleverness, about the kindness, empathy, creativity, through which our often misunderstood species is also characterized. Because as strange as it may sound: In terms of their disposition, humans are the most compassionate, smartest, most imaginative, humorous animal on the entire planet.

Nature gave us very special talents in the cradle, even if we have rarely understood how to use these talents sensibly. But when this happened, those wonderful moments came when nature, in a sense, transcended itself. "Mother Nature" didn't care at all - but we shouldn't be indifferent: After all, evolution took billions of years to produce a being that is able to see through the evolutionary process. For that reason alone, it would be a shame for us to step down from the stage of life prematurely.

Anyone who denies this and believes that one does not have to cry tired tears for humanity when it is finally gone has, in my opinion, just not yet discovered the great sides of this species. This book aims to counteract this. It shows what fantastic achievements man has made in science, philosophy, art and technology, how self-sacrificing many of our fellows strived to make this world a better, more just place, and with how much decency, dignity and bravery they did most of us master our lives.

In short: I will explain that, despite all the twists and turns of history, there are endless reasons to respect humanity. And maybe, yes maybe, after reading this book, one or the other will find it a little harder to be a cynic.