A few weeks ago when my director and I were location scouting for the “My Own Way” video near Venice Beach, we were walking over a canal and saw a bunch of ducks – the kind with the green heads. A group of them were picking on one of the ducks that looked different. It was a dirty white color and didn’t have the green head. They would peck at the back of his neck repeatedly, pin him to the ground, and tear out his feathers. We tried to scare them away and get in between them and the injured duck, but they would keep circling around. The different one would try to half run/fly away, but the group of green heads would always get him cornered, and the pecking and beating would resume.

I was bothered by this not only because I like animals and hate seeing any of them suffer, but it also felt too much like I was watching people. Bullying, hate crimes, gangs, cliques, whatever. I got the same feeling watching the ducks as I get when I see video footage on the news of some crime done by humans. These are ducks with brains that can’t be more than an inch in diameter, yet if aliens were observing, would they be able to tell a difference in behavior between humans and ducks?

A few days after the duck incident I was on the beach boardwalk about 6 blocks from the canal. While I was taking some test footage some clamoring arose and soon after I felt something hit me in the side of the knee and almost knock me over. I thought someone had crashed on their skateboard and fallen into me. By the time I gathered myself people were screaming and I saw two guys viciously beating down another guy. Chaos ensued and eventually the guy got away and ran down the boardwalk with the two guys chasing him.

Whether you believe in the account of the fall of Adam and Eve or not, you can’t deny that humans are capable of both abominably carnal acts, and supreme acts of kindness and virtue not seen in the animal kingdom. I wonder if any duck has ever come to the rescue of the one being pecked to death, or if any of the assailant ducks ever has a change of heart when he realizes that what he’s doing isn’t right. I doubt it.

Evolution is always a hotly debated topic between agnostics and Christians. I’m not sure you have to take a side on this one. There is strong evidence for it. It makes sense from the account recorded in Genesis that things have evolved from the time the Earth was created until now (especially with the theory of general relativity taken into consideration). Man is the last creation mentioned. Still, there is something that separates us from animals. It’s that “breath of life”, that spirit. Our better halves. Even if man descended from primates, man wasn’t man until man had a spirit.

And now we have dual natures – carnal and spiritual. Which are we? Which do we want to become? Are we satisfied with just succumbing to our animal instincts? Or do we veer more toward refining our spirits?

It’s a constant battle. But victory is sweet. It’s a good feeling when we grow spiritually and separate ourselves even a little bit from being animals controlled only by carnal desires. Whereas evolution in the animal kingdom takes millions of years, we can evolve in one lifetime. That’s what really separates us.

And there’s only one thing that limits how much we can evolve – the beast within.

I believe in matter under mind
I believe in beats… you know I believe in rhyme
I believe in the revolution and what it’s all about
I believe in evolution – we’re evolving right now

– from “I Believe” on The Meridian of Rhyme