In the past two DMs we have been dealing with Brian Swimme’s story of how differently 50,000 chimps and 50,000 humans will act in a stadium.

Chimpanzees show empathy and altruism just like humans do – we can even learn from how they behave, explains anthropologist Frans de Waal. Film by Melissa Hogenboom and Harold Morris. BBC Reel

Chimpanzees are wonderful beings—ask Jane Goodall or others who have lived among them.  Their story is well told by Carl Safina in his book, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace.

Safina observes that chimps may hold “clues to the genesis of human irrationality, group hysteria, and political strongmen.”  Chimps demonstrate a “a preference for peace, within a penchant for war.”  Something we hold in common with them.

Yet, “the deeper nature of chimpanzees includes tender, empathic concern for others and courageous altruism.”

Chimpanzees “are not our ancestors; the last species ancestral to chimpanzees and humans is extinct.  Chimps are our contemporaries.” They are “complete chimpanzees, not half-baked humans,..human-like but not human.”  Our species is the “closest living relative of the chimpanzees and the bonobo.”   

Clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson outlines surprising findings on alpha chimpanzees and community structure. “Chimpanzees and The Theory Of Power, Social Structure and Reproduction” | With Karl Friston Jordan B Peterson Clips

Chimpanzees and humans are the only two ape species “stuck dealing with familiar males as dangerous”.  This renders us both “simply bizarre among group-living animals because [we] create a stressful, tension-bound, politically encumbered social world” for ourselves to inhabit. This situation “exists only in chimpanzees and humans.” 

Chimps “seem to have trapped themselves in a more violent society than was necessary”….What keeps them there?  What keeps us there?

Among chimps, “small fights are easily contained….But when real trouble breaks out there seems to be no limits to the aggressiveness of chimpanzees.”  There are often two females for every male because males die at a much higher rate.

Kindia attempts to challenge the leadership of current top male chimp, Qafzeh, at Edinburgh Zoo. But will Kindia’s display ritual be sufficient to usurp Qafzeh? Clip from ‘Chimp TV’ by BBC Studios

Yet we can say that “life for chimps is peaceful, most of the time.”  Scientific data show that chimpanzees spend the vast majority of their time—roughly 99 %–of their natural lives—in peace.  The same social system that costs them in tensions and upheavals pays dividends of community and relationships.  This is the balance they forge with what skills they have, within the limitations of who they are and the mixed consequences of male ambitions.

Other species living within their own community networks of close family and family friends such as “bonobos, sperm whales, elephants, and a few others—have found more consistent peace”. 

“For the vast majority of their lives and times, the chimpanzees connect amicably and quell their worst impulses.”  They “tap into their better nature ninety-nine percent of the time.”*

* Carl Safina, Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace, pp. 240, 210f., 207, 212, 240f., 243, 323f.

See Matthew Fox, Original Blessing.  

And Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Chimpanzee family in Uganda. Photo by USAID Africa Bureau on Wikimedia Commons.

Queries for Contemplation

A question from Safina is this: “Chimpanzees are who they are.  And we are what we are…. The chimps are the best they can be.  The question for us: Are we?”

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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3 thoughts on “Chimps & Us, Stadiums, Sports and Wars continued”

  1. Avatar

    “Are We the Best We Can Be?”

    We are the best that we want to be. “Are we the best that we can be?” That question best answered through more questions.

    Can we get better? Do we want to get better or are we comfortable with where we are at? Are we uncomfortable where we are at, but too fearful, too prideful or too unambitious to change? Or do we have self-serving ambitions and want to maintain the status quo or even come to suppress the vulnerable? Where is our heart and what will move our heart, create a change of heart? Do we have the courage to change and if not, where do we find it? What ‘source’ do we draw from? Do we acknowledge a greater source, a greater force and go seek it out for counsel and comfort? Do we ‘think’ too much and are only ‘half-hearted’ in our actual efforts and actions? — BB.

  2. Avatar

    In our evolution as a human species, our True Heart Selves~Sacred Eternal Souls have integrated our divine nature within us which definitely is composed of our Divine Feminine and Divine Love being better balanced/integrated with the Divine Masculine. Our Mother~Father Source-Creator is probably more androgynously One in its deepest nature, and why mystics in experiencing their spiritual transformations have attempted to describe in their cosmic consciousness the Loving Oneness of our multidimensional-multiverse co-Creation~Incarnation~Evolving Cosmos….

  3. Avatar

    Perhaps the best we can be, has more to do with the radical acceptance of simply being whole, rather than striving to become better or best.

    What I mean by this is, that we humans tend to fragment ourselves into divisive catagories; labeling different aspects of ourself; which often seem to be in contradictory opposition to one another, or in paradoxal duality with one another… things such as our light side and our dark shadow side… our false self and our true self… our inner wounded victim and our courageous heroic healer… on and on the list goes. We also often place these inner aspects of self in seperate columns of being what we call our weaknesses which are bad and negative or our strengths which we call good and positive.

    Perhaps it is radical acceptance tempered with self-compassion and unconditional love towards ALL these fragmented parts of ourselves, which our soul so deeply longs for… is the pathway of being the best we can be… which leads to the unfolding, evolving, emergence of being imperfectly whole.

    Is this not what the Buddha and the Christ learnt, taught and gave testimony to, within their journey of being whole or what other mystics termed as being Oned With!

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