Fate of a Different Kind

28 02 2008

By Jill Ettinger

The world does not need to be saved.

Earth is not in any immediate danger of disintegrating, falling into a black hole, or even being taken over by planet-eating aliens. The future of the human race (and all terrestrial creatures) is however, another story altogether.

As far as science can tell, the planets, moons and stars in our galaxy have been around longer than the human mind can rightfully perceive. Artifacts buried in ancient rock molecules and riverbeds leave hints of a planet eons before our time, but the precise truth is still a great mystery. However, we’ve come to a shared belief about the history and timeline of the Earth, even though its origins are constantly debated. Religion commingles with relics, carving out convenient stories of divination, positing the Earth as a waiting room for Heaven, or in some cases, Hell.

The human race has carried on this way since standing upright – pockets of people all around the planet diving head first into beliefs, faiths and dogma. Ghosts and spirits are dismissed as irrational hallucinations of the unfortunate and mentally unstable, while the majority of the planet submits to arbitrary Godheads conjectured thousands of years ago but still unverified.

Perhaps we’ve somehow jinxed ourselves, making communion impossible at the present time. This is highly possible if one subscribes to the tenets of most religions, where our sinful ways have led us into a time of darkness. According to them, planetary imbalances are not brought about by lack of stewardship and neglect, but rather the acts of a wrathful God.

Whatever the source of our plight is, real warnings are visible. Yet we continue to hypothesize about the “world” being in danger when the planet itself shows no signs of jeopardy. Its track record is virtually flawless – surviving millennia of transitions without falling out of orbit, losing any mass, maintaining its moon and so on. Our brief blip on the timeline however has been mostly traumatic if one is to judge our species by the effects we’ve had on other species, ecosystems and each other. Individual joy certainly exists, but as a whole our positive contributions are questionable.

While certain species tend to appear more complicated than others, all life is series of complex intricacies. Even those seemingly inanimate earth-bound objects are all part of this planet, which is intrinsically alive. If we were to view earth as a person, maybe then we begin to see how all parts work synergistically and why death – even extinction – is a necessary function for survival. Think of baby teeth, clipping fingernails, going to the bathroom and menstrual cycles. These are not viruses or diseases, but parts of our being that no longer serve the whole, or that need regeneration. And like viruses and diseases, when things are not in service to the organism, it consciously or unconsciously finds a way to remove them. This then raises the question: Are humans akin to baby teeth or a deadly virus? Regardless which description is more accurate, one thing is quite clear: we seem to be on our way out.

That we have doubled the planet’s population in forty years is quite unbelievable, but truth it is. We’re pacing ourselves to add another three billion in the next forty. Already we’re at an unsustainable number, with millions dying of starvation and treatable diseases every year. Half of the world lives in impoverished conditions, on less than $2 a day while fortunate westerners press on, many with savior complexes trying to solve all the world’s “problems” in manners one could also label as arrogant.

In the United States, countless families live paycheck to paycheck while employers fly private jets, own multiple homes, yachts, Rolls Royce’s and the like while trimming employee benefits. To each his own is a well-fitting perspective, though a lion that greedily kills all prey in the jungle will soon meet a harsh fate.

Whether lion or prey, we’re all interconnected in this upright ecosystem-in-danger. Our threatened survival is no longer unavoidable, yet still the urge remains to externalize the situation to the “earth’s problems” and not necessarily our own. Certainly the problem is on the large-side of reckoning with, which can certainly cause knee-jerk reactions and fear, but chances of the answers lying somewhere in more Cadillacs or celebrity perfumes seems unlikely.

Likewise the recent move towards mainstream greenwashing is already losing  power, washing into the fabric of our marketing security-blanket (like John Stewart announcing the Oscars were “going green” because celebrities were * walking * all the way to the podiums). One too many calls from the recycling bin leave a country full of the all too familiar excuse (and perhaps famous last words): “Someone else will do it.”

So it may be god or the devil or just plain bad management of resources that have put us in this situation. No matter, really. Perhaps we’ve been going about it all wrong. Maybe the real victory isn’t in saving anything. Maybe it’s in being amongst the last of a species like no other the Earth has ever known.




One response

2 03 2008

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Khalil Gibran

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