I am about halfway through “The Overstory”. Yesterday morning, after walking 5 miles listening to the book, I came home and wrote these thoughts down.
Evolution can go horribly wrong sometimes. Imagine roving bands of hunters and gatherers. In Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” one of the men discovers that he can defeat another man by using a bone as a club. That little tribe now has an advantage over others. Survival of the fittest. The race is on.
Thousands of years later men argue that everything they encounter merely exists to be used by men for their survival, but also for their their enjoyment, their power and wealth. Religions are created around this idea and thrive. The men decide that everything that is NOT them is to be used. At first that means plants and animals, but eventually also applies to women and any man who looks different from them. Empires are created with these ideas. The first men who turn trees into lances and bows and arrows win. Then come men who fashion materials into bombs. Evolution creates winners. But perhaps evolution also creates dead ends.
Eventually, women gain the right to vote, people of color gain the right to vote. People even consider allowing other species to have a say. After all, corporations have rights and can speak through lawyers, so why shouldn’t monkeys and dolphins, trees and mountains have the same right to have an advocate.
At this point, however, humanity has grown into a giant ball that rolls downhill. How many of the 8 billion people can be fed without abusing the planet’s resources? How can this ball thundering down the hill be stopped or even slowed down?
I think the survival of humans as a species depends on changing the course of this ball that rolls along and has been rolling for so many thousands of years. Evolution created a species that ended up being too efficient and too selfish, too hungry for power and control — homo sapiens. Evolution doesn’t care. Let it all go to hell and start over, what’s another few billion years anyway. Perhaps the next batch will turn out to better mix cunning with caring, sentient beings with more sensitivity and with less of an appetite for destruction.
The ball has garnered too much speed to be stopped right away, but it’s possible that one can create a groove in the ground that gently changes the path of the ball and diverts it enough to slow it down. Given enough time I hope that humanity can catch up and realize that this whole planet is an experiment in consciousness.
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