I warn you, dear reader, this missive is not for the light of heart or those who wish to gossip about the latest whatever in the news. This is for those of you out there who believe in a better world. Not that it's here or that we're on our way, to be sure. It is for those of you who believe that there is still good, that people still strive for it, that people can change -- and that they do, in fact, rise more to the challenge than to descend into predation when we need to survive.
I cannot explain from whence this writing came, honestly. I had this most strange and powerful of experiences, I shit you not. I was listening to music and I heard a song from a band I really like, though hadn't heard this particular one. Something in it struck me just so.
I found myself sobbing uncontrollably, crying like a child, tears running down my face, my hands holding my head, shoulders shaking and this choking wail of a cry coming from between my open lips. And I just couldn't stop -- I literally leaned right into it and let it come.
During this -- extremely conscious moment -- epiphanic episode, I was aware that I cried from despair, from heartache, for the beauty I see around me, for the love and honor of people I have known, for the joy and incredible happiness I have seen and experienced -- and while I cried this, I cried it for me and for everyone in the world, knowing that I am just one more person in a world full of people.
And then I started writing. I wrote non-stop and I think it might have literally been pounded out in about an hour and ten minutes. I was on FIRE! I re-read it just a few moments ago (I wrote this four days ago) and I made a few small changes here and there and am now presenting it to you, my fellow Open Salon readers, my fellow humanitarians, my fellow travelers on the great spaceship, Planet Earth.
I ask only that you read it completely before commenting -- even if that means you come back to it a few times. Honestly, this isn't about ratings or views, it's about spreading a knowing around to as many as I can and I just know this one, if you're ready for a heavy read, will knock you on your ass -- metaphorically in the philosophical sense, I hope.
It started because I was thinking about all the bad news we've been seeing and reading and writing about lately. It's so easy to forget that there are good things going on, good news happening and good people out there still trying to make life better. So I hope this missive, written in a moment of ecstatic passion borne of some rupture in the fabric of the universe in a location typically referred to as my brain, will cause you to look anew around you and wonder.
Are We Doomed?
No, this is not about the quixotic freak, wandering around the streets with a sign proclaiming:
The End is Near!
This is a serious question we must begin to ask ourselves as a race of beings with an arguable level of intelligence to be able to consider the idea.
Are we doomed? By doomed I mean, of course, to be fated to extinction through our own inability to solve our own problems, all created from previous attempts to solve other problems in the process of surviving as a race, a nation, a people, tribe or family. By doomed I mean also, without equivocation – through our near instinctual desire to be drawn into a sense of security by being around persons of power, in the same sense the herd draws a sense of comfort from the strongest males just being nearby – that we allow those of power in our race to imitate lower forms of animal behavior – simple, pure self-interest at all costs. Even if that means the entire herd must perish.
Leaving religion and religious doctrine out of this for the moment, mankind has been the same general being for something close to 250,000 years. In other words, a child born that long ago is genetically and morphologically indistinguishable from one born today for all intents and purposes. What is the longest any one civilization has survived in what we know of recorded history? How many others that we know of lasted as long? How many dead ones do we know of the world over? How many more are out there, buried under more than thirty thousand, sixty thousand or a hundred twenty thousand years of detritus, sand, mud, volcanoes, oceans or mountains since their demises?
In evolutionary terms, mankind is a tiny blip on the radar; less stable and successful over time than, say the dragonfly, which has been around over three hundred million years compared to our quarter million year status. I mean when you look at it like that it has to make you wonder: Are we doomed? Seriously, are we simply fated to have our lights doused in the foreseeable future, because we, as a race, simply don’t give a flying fuck enough to actually do something about ensuring the survival of the species, even though we have the power to consider our fate?
Is there any argument out there that is actually BIG ENOUGH for any person, regardless of their culture, status, religious view, gender or upbringing to deny future generations a safe, vital and balanced planet, economy(ies) and culture(s) that support our desire for individual expression, our apparent need for human company and our responsibility as individuals to recognize that all the true, life-giving needs of a being should be something we strive to provide to all, irrespective of any other consideration beyond they are our fellow humans and deserve to eat, just as we all do?
I don’t think there is. That said, it’s clear that this is truly the crux of humanity’s largest issues with suffering, war, famine, disaster, repression, oppression, suppression, domination, manipulation and control in our world of mankind today. So while I see my fellow man as just that, deserving of all the rights I believe we all have in common as living, breathing, thinking and feeling beings of the same race, I am aware that I am not the only one that does so, and – more importantly – that I am aware that there are a decent chunk of my fellow humans who would watch me die if it meant they’d live another day. There’s another, thankfully smaller, chunk of humanity who would kill me before they shared with me.
Which one of these views is the right one? Doesn’t it really depend on the scale of the situation? In some cases, like the Donner Party or the tales of men lost at sea for months in lifeboats, isolated tribes or groups starving to death we abhor the idea of eating each other, but, when it comes right down to it, if the circumstances warrant that some survive as long as possible, we can understand it. It makes us shudder and we don’t like to talk about it, but we all know that, if the situation calls for it, there’s almost always going to be at least one in a crowd who’s willing to strike the fatal blow so the rest may live. Or so we’re lead to believe in tales of the survivors of such things.
Are we doomed to forget how many others out there, lost and feared dead, disappearances of entire tribes and peoples that there may actually be even more of those groups out there who died and none survived, because to eat another person is such an act of base survival vanity that they would all rather die before they ate anyone? Are we doomed to think, (because those who survive such instances without cannibalism under such extremes are so very few) that we all must believe there is this dark ‘live or die’ mentality in each of us and that we must always fear it winning us over?
I don’t think we do. I don’t think we are. And again, that said, this does not mean that everyone out there will agree, that everyone will even believe that such optimism in humanity is warranted or that it’s even remotely possible to have a world that we could actually share as a race of beings. Well, I believe we are that race of beings intent on ensuring our longevity, our survival, and our ascendancy to higher planes of understanding and intelligence by keeping our planet as healthy and productive for us as is possible.
We don’t need all of us to think this, though it would be nice in reaching consensus on what is a better way to live. I believe it is with solutions oriented, compassion driven answers to our life’s challenges as a race of beings, dominating and using the resources of our planet as easily as a deer munches leaves or cattle graze grass. We do this and there is a clear benefit to using many of our resources in the manner in which we do. There is still a large portion of the population that believes that profit, power and money are the reasons we do these things – and while that may be a part of the equation, humanity is not generally known to be a frivolous or selfish race until just very recently – this time, at least.
Not everyone has to think this way, either, for it to have its impact. And this is the reason we must ask, “Are we doomed?” Because as much power, beauty, transcendent energy and emotion as there are in the things we do that makes us understand ideas and ideals like: love, compassion, respect, goodwill, honesty, integrity and trust, we are all sad witness to the fact that there is a power – and a sort of shocked awe – in anger, hatred, indignation, righteous outrage, insanity, unchecked loss of touch with our reality. These things and more can wreak havoc and disaster on entire populations in some form or another. You only have to read a history book to see how papered our forefathers are with the patents of deceit, hate, lust, envy, greed, selfishness and other things that caused a large portion of society to suffer needlessly.
Through all that, we have progressed. There are still enough people out there in this world, from all walks of life, from all communities, nations, cultures and yes, even religions, that still believe more in the common goodness of all mankind, who are still tolerant of others and respect their views, even if they don’t believe in the same things. There are more people out there who enjoy and entertain a lifelong outlook of “live and let live” over most all other day-to-day philosophies you can choose to examine.
The difference is that it’s easy to forget that there are people out there who don’t agree with you. When you forget that someone might not see things your way, it becomes much easier to scoff at their views, dismiss what they have to say as ignorant or unenlightened and thus, without any merit, either. This closes a mental door in our own points of views, perhaps helping to solidify a stronger resistance to changing this idea in the future, because right now we hold it to be more “right” than another thought on the same subject.
When these kinds of agreed upon ideas and thoughts are expressed in the words of someone else, we tend to nod and then, without even really thinking about it, begin exploring where we meet and diverge on a series of issues we might find of mutual interest, based on this first one. We begin to mentally, though possibly completely unconsciously, tailor our responses to try to find common ground on issues – or in the opposite case where you immediately dislike someone’s stated point of view, you look for more ways you might disagree. These things are two sides of the same coin.
When we find we have run into something we don’t much care for, don’t like or even can say we hate, our reactions can be pretty strong. They can also be of such a nature as to override or sidestep our normal sense of common courtesy. This sort of emotive and nearly instinctive overreaction to a situation is not beyond our control or our ability to recognize that it might have it’s appropriate place at times in our lives. The difference, which makes it easy to forget that people don’t think like you do, is the same reason it’s easy to become complacent about your points of view amongst nothing other than those who see things the same. What if, while you all agree to see things a certain way, you’re still really wrong?
How many people sacrificed animals, people, family members even, to appease the Gods, or to make an emperor happy, or to show worshipful loyalty and obeisance to a religion’s head human mouthpiece in all of our history? How many wars have been fought over religions contesting the right to property of certain lands considered Holy to other religions? How many wars have been fought on behalf of kings and heads of states where not a wound one would the leader ever suffer, win or lose? How much suffering do you have to read about to make you realize two things:
There has to be a better way to live than this! (and)
Are we doomed?
I think we might be doomed. I think it’s certainly possible. I think, so far, we have been extremely lucky as a race. No natural calamity has managed to wipe us off the face of the planet. We have lived long enough and are smart enough to break past the bonds of our planet’s gravity. We explore, seek to know new things, ask questions and keep trying to understand more about our world, our place in it, and how to make a better world, a better life, a better chance to survive.
Are there enough of us doing this? Are we doomed to repeat, to a grander scale this time, a catastrophe, perhaps even of our own creation that may very well wipe us off the face of the planet? Will we simply be unable to best the challenge, as in a planet killing asteroid, a massive solar storm, the changing of our magnetic poles, a crustal slip of the mantle of eight hundred miles, the loss of the land ice on the planet, the hole in our ozone, poisoning our waters and lands, nuclear warfare, crop failures on a massive scale, global warming or increased levels of radiation from the sun?
I mean, when you put it like that, yeah, at some point in time, we’re doomed to fail. All of our history shows this to be the case. You are born, you live, then you die and after that – no-one really knows. This is just as true of businesses, family lines, tribes, nations, corporations or ideas. They’re born, they live and at some point, they die. In the eventual and infinite sense, we all must perish from this plane of existence. Everything that comes after that is moot to all of us here in this life, irrespective of religious views or lack of same.
Are we doomed? Are we fated to argue, fight, kill and demean our fellow humans simply out of lack of belief in their ideas, their views and their perspectives on the world? Is it our fate to suffer at each others’ hands all manner of ill-conceived and vicious methods devised in rooms for the sake of a few to control the many? Can we break free of this cycle of abuse? A cycle that is destructive of the ends of the survival of our race.
I think through ensuring the survival of the planet as much as possible, while looking at ways to exit our home world should disaster be all but inevitable, that we are working on these things for the benefit of all mankind. While we explore the reaches to which we can apply ourselves we can examine our way of living our lives and our philosophies applied in our day-to-day living and honestly ask ourselves, “Is there a better way to live than this?” And if no answer presents itself in short order, don’t freak out, be patient. Meanwhile, the other question I admonish and encourage everyone to ask is, “Are we doomed?”
Like I said, I don’t think we are doomed. I think we could be, though. It’s definitely a possibility. I think the more we ask these questions of ourselves, our society, our world, and even of our philosophies we base our ethics, morals and standards of value upon, the better we all will eventually end up being. The rest of those of us who don’t want to ask those questions and who tend to follow those we feel might be good, strong or charismatic leaders need to remember to ask those same two questions.
After all, shouldn’t even the mildly curious be wondering:
Is there a better way to live than this?
Are we doomed?
Don’t we all stand to lose if we are doomed? Don’t we all stand to gain if there really is a better way to live than this? And while I once again admit that I am aware some folks don’t feel the way I do about their fellow human beings, I choose to believe that we can do better. I believe we have to strive to do better. I believe that, as a race of beings, it is our genetic, moral, cultural and racial imperative to make the world a better place for everyone. If we all benefit we all benefit – it’s not a complicated concept. It’s obvious on it’s face.
And if we’re all doomed, then we’re all doomed. Doesn’t that imply some important moment to reflect on the actions of our lives to consider if we really have done all we can, is there any way out of this, can we survive this? You see, at the end of the day, no matter what I believe happens after my soul departs this world, this reality, this plane of existence, I see absolutely no reason to tolerate and continue to put up with those things that make a people suffer without cause. We can effect change in this world and we can do it together.
While our history, what little of it we have in recorded form, shows we are rife with ills and troubles, it also shows we are rife with the promise of great potential for caring, love, rational and reasoned thought, guided by wisdom, compassion and experience, while tempered in the evanescent hope of man’s ability to change, rise above his ills and achieve, at least once in a while, that great potential to amaze with wonder and joy.
With this outlook, if we are doomed, we can all celebrate our accomplishments as much as we can and then have one hell of a party. There’s no need for war, suffering, abuse or control – we’d be free to just live. Money would mean nothing and while some might choose to fight, murder, pillage and destroy in a nihilistic frenzy, I think it would be far less than any authorities might choose to have you believe. I think, on the whole, those who really wish to harm and destroy will do that fairly quickly and those with no real stomach for it will stop when they lose their leaders. It would stop.
If we are doomed, I’d like to think, as with mankind’s general nature during most calamities, we’d end up reaching out and embracing, sharing our last moments, no-one has to eat anyone else to survive and we could just spend our last days, years or moments in reflection on what we have done to that point. What else could we do if we are wholly unprepared for a disaster?
If the answer is, we are not doomed, then we must answer, “Is there a better way to live than this,” as satisfactorily as we can. If we cannot ask those two questions regularly as a race, I wonder, “What will become of us as a race? Are we doomed? Is there a better way to live than this?”
Repeat reading this as required until you get it.