I think one of the greatest things about humans is their insanity. In the face of impossible odds, they will still throw everything they have into their task and, assuming they don’t pull it off, fail in the most spectacular way possible. Even if it’s for no other reason than to prove that they gave everything they had and there was no way to win. When I think about some of the things that the human race has accomplished with their insanity, it amazes me I feel a sense of pride just for being part of the same species.
We found the most remote, frigid, unpopulable places on earth and one fellow looked at another and said “I’ll bet you I can get up there.” The other fellow almost assuredly called him an idiot and bet him however much cash was in his pocket that he couldn’t, and then went with him to make sure he wasn’t going to cheat and just say he got there. Thus the tallest peaks on earth were conquered. Same with the south pole, someone wanted to get there just for the hell of it. Before anyone had reached these places, people even raced to be the first. And half of them died. I suppose it’s our curiosity and insane desire to satiate that curiosity that really drives most discoveries.
Then we built robots just that could withstand scores of tons of pressure just because someone looked down on a boat one day and thought, “I wonder what’s down there. Like, ALLL the way down there.” We strapped people to the most explosive substances we could find and flung them out of the atmosphere into the most unforgiving environment there is just to say that we did, and damn it if we weren’t going to figure out how to make it work.
Inside every one of us is a spark of insanity, and for some it may be hard to coax out, but those that can do it make the impossible leaps, the ones everyone else is too afraid to make. It’s that madness that drives us to throw ourselves in harm’s way when a fellow human is in peril. To perform feats just to prove that they can be done. To, and I’m going to sound really cheesy here, boldly go where no one has gone before.
This is what astounds me the most. Humans can comprehend death. We don’t know of any other sentient beings with high level thinking on the same scale as us, so as far as we know we’re the only ones that can do that. We can try to know what it means to stop existing. And aside from those who find comfort in the thought of an afterlife, we can think about it, on our deathbeds, or before the barrel of a gun, or at the edge of a cliff, or waiting in the gallows, and laugh right in the face of it. We can stare into the void and taunt it, dare it to come and get us. I personally think there’s no better way to meet death than with a smile on your face, the kind of sickening half mad smirk that, should there be a grim reaper, would cause him to hesitate and glance around like he’s missing a joke.
It has been said that hope is both our greatest asset and our most tragic shortcoming, but I think that insanity encompasses more of the human spirit than hope does, and serves both of it’s places equally well.