I recently engaged in a conversation with someone very near and dear to me which followed/yielded the following chain of thought.
A story regarding Julian Assange came on the news. My cohort remarked with a combination of dismay, annoyance, and disgust, that the guy was a menace to our continued existence. Not just hers and mine, or our country’s, but humanity’s. She suggested that his actions were intended to provoke an unraveling of the social order and could even be apocalyptic.
I asked if maybe he wasn’t just an overly strident ‘one-worlder.’ My current orientation towards Earth includes a heavy dose of the belief that the only way humans can continue to be part of the equation here is to realize that we are truly one people with one resource base. Any other course will wipe us out due to the attendant inefficiencies alone, to say nothing of actually fighting each other for the resources we need. Both the inefficiency and the conflicts will only be accelerated by the worsening global tilt towards defining freedom as the right of the already mighty to accumulate as much as possible by whatever means they feel necessary while everybody else makes due however they can. But that’s a topic for a different screed….
The movement towards one world must contain both top-down and bottom-up components. It won’t matter what the leaders do if we as individuals insist on framing our daily activities as us vs. them. But at the same time, it won’t matter what the population at large does if the leaders retain the ability to keep us divided.
This is where Assange re-enters the conversation. One of the means by which the leaders maintain current divisions is by controlling the flow of information between the rest of us. The development of the interwebs helped undermine this somewhat. What Assange has done is give the process a hit of nitrous to get it down the drag strip a little faster.
My cohort was patient with me, waiting for me to come to a halt on my own before plainly stating: “But that’s the problem. We won’t ever get to one world. We can’t.”
I inquired as to whether by ‘ever’ she meant, not while we’re alive, or not anytime that’s imaginable, or…. and got cut off.
“Never,” she said. “It goes against our nature.”
I was stunned. I’m also a big believer in human ingenuity, you see, and it seemed a pretty small step given how far we’d come to simply begin to make the choice to live as one instead of not. I needed to be sure I wasn’t misunderstanding: “So you’re saying that even if humans lived here for another 600,000 years that we’d never evolve to the point where we could coexist as one population?”
“We might get to a point where most of us wanted to,” she said, “but no, we couldn’t actually make it happen. We are acquisitive. If somebody has the resources we need, we figure out how to get them. And if there aren’t enough of whatever for us each to get our share, we figure out how to make sure we get whatever we can. And that won’t ever change. It’s like dogs being pack animals. We’ve domesticated lots of them. But if you turned them all loose again today, they’d form packs. It’s how they’re wired. Even living with people, they either find or are taught their place in that pack. But they’re still in a pack.”
I wanted to protest, but my gears were already turning in overdrive, pulling me down another huge rabbit hole that had just torn open. If we couldn’t, with our opposable thumbs and abstract thought and whatever else we have at our disposal, even evolve the one step needed get to one world, maybe we weren’t evolving at all. It’s tough to find evidence that we’re progressing physically. But maybe we won’t even end up as brains in glass cases.
To carry it one step further. If we’re not evolving now, maybe we never did. Maybe we were created whole and placed on this earth, as-is. And all those fossils? Well clearly they didn’t evolve either. And we’re just the most recent version of them.
I know, they’re lots of inconvenient facts regarding this line of thought….carbon dating, the geological record, etc. But if we were created whole, placed here, and left to figure it out, we’d make up any damn thing we could to make sense of it. We can’t get out of our petri dish (the universe) though, so anything we’ve made up really doesn’t have any context in a greater reality. It’s a closed system. Abitrary. Internally consistent, but what the hell does that matter? We were placed here by our creator and await ascension to the kingdom of heaven. Everything else is just things we do to amuse ourselves.
Alternately, maybe we did evolve as our scientists have posited. Maybe we’re nearing the end of our run. Maybe this is just a momentary downturn. Again, because of the closed nature of the system, we can’t actually know, but we CAN (and I believe should) keep trying to extend our run as far we can. And part of doing this is to really…REALLY…treat each other as we would want to be treated. Not just your neighbor, who looks and acts like you, but the guy living downtown, or the lady in Lima, or the kid in Kuala Lumpur. Anyone. Anywhere.
Doing so is in our self interest. Failure not only negates any progress science might continue to make in addressing our earthly problems but complicates any conversation we might end up having with St. Peter.