For most of us, eating is something we do to satisfy our hunger, or for the sheer pleasure of savoring every morsel. Food was meant to be taken in small bites and to be thoroughly chewed and enjoyed…
Hunger or Significance?
…But for some aggressive types, eating is a competitive sport. Competitive eating has a long history in America. For instance, county fairs have featured pie-eating contests since the Nineteenth Century. Then, in 1916, the first Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest was held – a tradition that’s been observed every 4th of July ever since. But in 2001 the world of competitive eating was rocked. That’s when Takeru Kobayashi eclipsed the previous record of 25.5 hotdogs in twelve minutes, by woofing down 50! This victory not only raised the bar for competitive eating. It also catapulted the “sport” into the mainstream. Kobayashi’s record has since been broken. The current record-holder is Joey Chestnut, who swallowed 74 hot dogs and buns in ten minutes in 2018.
I thought about human competitive eating the other day while feeding my wife’s new dog, a Plott hound puppy. Although only a couple of months old, this pup eats like a horse. But it’s not just the dog’s stomach capacity that’s bewildering. It’s the speed with which she can gulp things down. Then it dawned on me, “I’ve got a champion competitive eater in the family.” This dog can put Kobayashi and Chestnut to shame any day of the week – and she’s just a puppy. Just think of where she’ll be in a year!
Sadly, dogs aren’t allowed in competitive eating. But they should be, since they’re far better at speed-eating than people are. In fact, if you really want nature’s best eaters to compete, then skip humans altogether. A great white shark can eat the equivalent of 500 hotdogs in one swallow. But even they wouldn’t be the true champions. Pound for pound, snakes and gulper eels are probably the true eating champions.
Outside Our Lane?
Of course, there are far too many things that human beings devote themselves to – such as fighting, that animals are far superior at. I confess, although I like watching boxing events, no boxer or UFC fighter would stand much of a chance against a charging German shepherd. Pound for pound canines and felines are far superior fighters than people will ever be. The same is true when it comes to running, jumping, and swimming. Humans perform woefully poor compared to animals. Usain Bolt can’t come close to the speed of a cheetah. Michael Phelps is terribly slower than a sailfish. Evan Unger has only reached five feet, three inches in a jump. That’s impressive for a human, but a little kangaroo rat can jump nine feet high. Cougars can reach eighteen feet high in a single bound.
I don’t mean to put humans down, but the Olympic Games are really nothing more than a “Special Olympics” that allows under-powered human beings to compete successfully against their own kind. Otherwise, the animal Olympics would be a shutout every time, with people always consigned to last place.
Of course, there are activities at which the humans are far superior to animals. For instance, in most cases people are better at building things than animals are. I realize that spiders are phenomenal web builders and termites can construct great skyscrapers. The creative genius of humanity, however, guarantees it will excel in the end – as it has done with flight.
But human creativity displays itself most powerfully in the arts, literature, and music. Animals aren’t even in the running when it comes to these.
And when it comes to the capacity for compassion, empathy, and morality, humanity towers above all living things. Remember my wife’s dog. She’s hopeless when it comes to resisting stimuli. Wherever there’s food to be had, if she can reach it, it’s gone. No amount of yelling or pleading will stop her. Resisting temptation is simply not in her blood. Only humans will endure persecution, torture, and death for righteousness’ sake.
And only human beings have the capacity to perceive, to submit to, to communicate with, and to worship God. God made us to know Him and to be known by Him. He made us to love Him and to be loved by Him. If these are the activities at which humans excel at, then why do we not major in them? If these are the abilities and practices that make us rise above all other creatures, then why do we not devote ourselves to them?
So, you can break somebody’s jaw with a punch? Who cares? Many animals can crush every bone in your body. Why boast about something you can only be mediocre at? Why not do what God designed you to do far better than any animal?
So build, write, compose and inspire. Show compassion, mercy and forgive as your heavenly Father has forgiven you. Believe in God. Talk to Him in prayer and worship Him. Draw near to God in a deep and intimate friendship. This is what you were created for.
Saint Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rests in Thee.” Jesus said to His Father, “This is eternal life, to know Thee the only true God and Jesus Christ who Thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
Dear Father in heaven, I acknowledge You as my Creator and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And although I am not as strong or fast as the animals, Lord, You have made me greater and stronger in other ways – ways that make me more like my Maker. Help me, dear Father, to excel at those practices which make me more like You. Amen.
(Information from: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/fastest-fish.html; https://www.bustle.com/p/is-michael-phelps-the-fastest-swimmer-in-the-world-hes-a-top-human-competitor-for-a-shark-70345; https://www.hoopsbeast.com/the-highest-vertical-jump-record/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_eating)