Nature has contrived an interesting experiment in the human race. Being sentient, Homo Sapiens is the most powerful apex predator species and also the most dangerous yet to live. Because we're self-aware, we can choose to act from rational intelligence tempered by moral compassion. We can guide our collective course with consideration of probable consequences and restrain self-interest to responsible choices that lead to socially optimum results. Or we can serve self-interest alone with little regard to outcomes.
Creating and sustaining a livable world is up to us, me and you, and all the people of this Earth. How will this radical venture of human evolution work out in practice?
We have the choice to live by a practical, humanistic wisdom, day to day. The need to live well has never been more imperative given the present state of the world. Yet individual motivation has never been more tenuous than now, when we are beset by legions of distractions. Focus on the common good can make all the difference.
Our behavior may arise from awareness, though if tardy, choices become forced by life's urgent unfolding which biology teaches us is never static. Life continually expresses either entropy, balance, or syntropy, entropy's opposite. Humans have been doing steady syntropy for a few thousand years now. The shoulders of history's road are cluttered with remains of civilizations less advanced than ours. Will our collective actions ultimately opt for life or act out an inborn fatal flaw that leads to eventual mass destruction? Those are the real-world stakes in nature's human-sentience experiment. In a very real sense, everything rides on this cosmic roll of the dice.
We are the masters of our fate whether we heft our responsibility or ignore clear imperatives and lose ourselves in fleeting and unsatisfying gratifications, like shopping for things we don't need or fascination with conflict rituals like spectator sports and tabloid newscasts. Our collective self-mastery issue sets an inexorable rhythm for human evolution. It seems a never-ending drama. From the tragic lesson of Rapa Nui's status-driven tribal conflicts over scarce resources, to Findhorn's socio-spiritual experiments, human generations grope forward, guiding life to its best ends, or harmful results, and most often, unconsciously.
Our collective choices add up algebraically, on a mass scale, across continents, summing effects for centuries. Even the smallest choices accumulate into the planetary end result for the long haul, either contributing to growth, to equilibrium, or to decline. Enough is alright and enough is all wrong these days, to make obvious our problems and our opportunities.
Balances of many kinds are disrupted, globally. Human populations expand geometrically, indicating our species' basic success. But something is amiss, given our planet's largess, when the oceans become choked with plastic trash. We plan travel to Mars and beyond while we also grant control of nuclear weapons to leaders with questionable judgment because we fear loss of our safety, or possessions, wealth, or products, or even leisure diversions.
Our rockets might be useful for either space exploration or mass destruction. These opposite potentials make the glorious sentience trial run we're on so engaging because it's quite uncertain. Partial successes can drive ultimate failure unless astutely managed. So modern life plays out like a dystopic adventure novel.
Everything matters because nothing happens in isolation. As individuals, we each choose our path and the results accumulate, with each thought, with every breath, with any individual action. For the final sum to sustain healthy balance, enough of us must choose wisely from moment to moment and especially when behaviors have clear and foreseeable consequences.
How will we choose? Practicing awareness is not so much about recycling plastic as it's about selecting mature, humble, and morally upright world leaders who are also socially aware. We can pick leaders who act responsibly, who honor the common good, worldwide, rather than colluding across national borders to cause war and reap its profits.
We could select leaders who are not so compulsively lost in petty power-questing and personal wealth accumulation that they can't govern to inspire admiration and cooperation rather than envy, fear, and resistance. But first, our broken electoral systems need overhaul because in present regimes, billionaires (the new aristocracy) buy our elections and use their media control to mesmerize the masses into ratifying their preferences by how we vote and seal our fate to their advantage.
This is the most sophisticated and most successfully hidden-in-plain-sight form of mass predation yet devised. Election outcomes can be very accurately predicted according to which candidates receive the most in campaign contributions. There's only one rational way to interpret that fact.
Monarchy hasn't ended. It has simply been reborn in different guise. Modern governments degrade functionally into oligarchies. It appears that cross-border collusion between them is becoming a trend that drives a new world order of accelerating decadence and decline.
Humankind could achieve a collective awareness that drives right action to create optimum lives in a natural world that remains in healthy balance and makes a fair and functional social order more possible than ever before. Or, like a parasite that consumes its host and then dies, we can act selfishly and destroy the very planet that sustains our kind, as all the species disappear, one by one, until we are the last beings to go. Rain falls on everyone the same.
The increasing stakes are becoming clearer. Arctic permafrost steadily thaws out as colluding billionaires get richer by the nanosecond and buy our elections while the middle class disappears. The resulting methane emissions will surpass all previous atmospheric pollution and more than double it. This is expected to propel our civilization into a colossal downfall, once more. How ironic that we may finally end in a cosmic, planetary fart.
You can stand at the edges of glaciers and on tundra riverbanks, right now, and watch the melt water gush forth as never before and the soft earth banks collapse into gas-generating pools yet environmental science is still being denied to support profits, as we avoid right action in the face of clear evidence. Continuing a behavior that shows no promise has been offered as a definition of insanity.
The asylums may be gone but the conditions they housed seem to be spreading in the general population. It shows up in acts like weirdly anonymous public shootings where there is no specific relationship between the murderers and the victims. That free-floating mass violence a symptom of a systemic disorder.
In a mind that loses rationality, sentience departs. Going to the dark side for narrow, short-term gain, or living practically in the light of expansive awareness: it's a personal choice and a critical one for our progeny and for our species' ultimate future.
The world we live in is the world we create. Our frontier is no longer an external, virgin wilderness that begs to be pillaged. Our limiting factor has become callous self-interest that dwells within our hearts and guides our leaders. Will Earth become a place where every person has all their primary needs met, where war becomes impossible, where populations stay in check, where individual wealth is voluntarily held within reasonable limits and unbridled greed becomes unknown? We can choose a planet where healthy environment is sustained for all living beings and predation of one human being upon another becomes a dim memory. But first we have to survive our present regime, and the greatest scams in history.
Will we choose to dwell in peace, prosperity, fulfillment and continual balance, or will our decadence and apathy become our undoing? These are choices we collectively make, in each moment we share on this Planet, with every breath, with any decision or action, no matter how seemingly small, unrelated or inconsequential. We "vote" moment to moment with every thought. The heart can become the mind's guide dog but you have to want it and do the training.
We learned everything social we need to know in kindergarten, including how to treat everyone as we would have others treat us, to play nice, to not fight, to rest when we're tired, to share with our friends and find our best means of self-expression. Then we live our lives through old age as if we never heard these most fundamental, most imperative truths. When we act selfishly, nothing beyond personal gain matters. If we act for the common good, the world becomes a safe and happy place for all living beings. The outcome of the human sentience-experiment turns on this pivot.
We choose our collective fate by how we live as we travel together in Earth's orbit, but at different speeds, depending on latitude. From zero, rotating at one of the Earth's poles, to over 1,000 miles per hour near the equator, we all spin together in the endlessly repeated revolutions of our days.
I had a dream last night. I was back in kindergarten with my old classmates but as we are today, all adults. We had declared a class reunion. After a snack and some coloring, we all held hands in a line that encircled the whole globe. We knelt down together in unison and gave the Earth a long, tender kiss. But this was only a dream.
How we choose to live this day, in this moment, is how our Earth will have remembered us, or forgotten us, ten thousand years hence.