In my recent post about some small irritants of life, I stayed away from human behaviour, because that’s more than a small irritant. It warrants a post of its own, which has been brewing for some time. Here it is. Rant warning issued!
We are literally eating the Earth, even though we understand only a fraction of how it works and see its mysteries only as challenges to our cleverness. If you don’t believe that, read this: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/understanding-extinction-humanity-has-destroyed-half-the-life-on-earth-1.5324721
I have come to think our species should be called Homo destructor rather than Homo sapiens. Wisdom takes a long, wide view. Wisdom values thought before action. That does not describe us.
We destroy wilderness to satisfy our endless needs. We glorify explorers, adventurers, disrupters, and exploiters. We’ve left footprints and junk on the Moon, and are keen to set foot on Mars, having already sent machines there. We’re looking feverishly for Earth-like planets — more worlds to
conquer mess up. We tell ourselves this is as it should be, because we are by nature clever, curious, and inventive. Why shouldn’t we strive to know and control?
But why can’t we learn to value observing and contemplating more than utilizing and exploiting?
We pride ourselves on our inventiveness, always finding a way to adapt our environments to ourselves rather than accepting that evolution adapts us. Because the pace of evolution is too slow for us. We spent too many millennia in the stone age, and aren’t planning to go back there.
We want everything to be bigger, faster, cheaper. Short-sighted, greedy, and destructive — that’s us, as a species. We congratulate ourselves on our achievements in discovery, invention, and artistic creation. But consider this: almost none of that benefits any other life form. The Earth doesn’t care about books, the stock market, religions, or even the music of Beethoven.
And yet, we see ourselves as the pinnacle species. After 4.6 billion years, a life form on Earth turned and saw itself in the mirror of its intelligence and imagination. It split the atom and decoded life and gave itself license to manage the planet.
We pride ourselves on Knowing, on our self awareness, our god-like capability to stand outside ourselves and observe. If we used that capability with a broader purpose, it might benefit both the Earth and ourselves.
I’ve tried to convince myself that we are just another force of nature, like the asteroid that created the Chicxulub Crater, ending the age of the dinosaurs. We should be what we are, with no more regret for our effect on the Earth than that giant chunk of rock.
Science tells us the only life forms on Earth for its first couple of billion years were microbes. Compared to that, the present human-caused extinctions seem trivial. The planet will survive our depredations (even if we don’t) and life in some form will return. What’s wrong with that?
I’ve tried to convince myself of that, but I can’t. We are living creatures, made of the stuff of Earth and utterly dependent upon its life-supporting qualities. So why do we continue to do things that threaten those supports?
We humans need to develop and express a reverence for the Earth.
OK, enough ranting. I could go on, but I think I’ve made a few points, or at least fired off some wildly random shots. For a more positive and hopeful view, read this post from Anima Monday: https://animamonday.wordpress.com/2019/10/21/you-are-not-powerless/ (BTW, I heartily recommend the Anima Monday blog for its unique perspectives on humanity’s relations with the natural world.)
So, fellow Pressers of the Word — are you hopeful or despairing about the immediate prospects of life on Planet Earth?
Mouth image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay. “Eating Earth” image created by Audrey Driscoll with Canva.