Friday, February 17, 2006

Rising Above Nature 

One of the most painful lessons is learning the value of a good thing the hard way: when it no longer exists. It's a lesson that almost everyone has to personally deal with at some point in life. It's intrinsic to the nature of human consciousness as a mechanism that forces us to reevaluate and reprioritize, and gives us the opportunity to become wiser people with better lives.

If you haven't already noticed, some people are instinctively attuned to the wisdom of values, while others are instinctively insensitive to it. Some people are better than others at internalizing objective wisdom. Of course, the way in which a person is raised can make all the difference in the world. Parents that are wise, loving and patient can tune even the most insensitive children. And lousy parents are capable of reducing even a perfectly tuned child to a jumble of cognitive dissonance.

The primary responsibility for raising children belongs to parents and families, but it doesn't - or at least it shouldn't - end there. As a family of families, a society is also responsible for raising its children. Wise, loving, patient parenting is made more difficult and becomes rare when a society raises an excess of lousy people, desensitized to the wisdom of values. When wisdom can no longer maintain a balance, a vicious cycle is ignited and the society begins to consume itself.

People don't set out to destroy their own civilizations, but somehow, civilizations always end up in ruins. Sometimes it's mother nature or one civilization destroying another. Dominant civilizations like the one I live in usually end up doing themselves in. We can look at the cold, hard facts of history through a Darwinian lens and conclude that the evolution of what we call civilization is simply a repeating pattern: creation then destruction leading to improved creation then destruction leading to improved creation then destruction leading to... I can accept that as reality but only to an extent. I can't accept the conclusion that it's a pattern that we're doomed to repeat until our future no longer exists.

The pattern ends in one of two ways: if it ends with creation it will mean that we have managed to retire the pattern, if it ends in destruction it will mean that the pattern has retired us.

We have reached a decisive moment in our history and in our evolution, and we have a choice to make. Collectively, we have earned enough objective wisdom to recognize that the human race is dominated by a brutal and primitive paradigm that concludes in cosmic Russian roulette. If we choose to keep pulling the trigger, we're as good as dead. Cheating doesn't count. When you're pointing a gun at your own head with the intention of pulling the trigger, it's pitiful and pointless to pretend that it's not really happening.

I can accept that it took nature millions of brutal years to turn an animal into a human being, but I can't accept the idea that 21st century human beings are still nature's helpless victims. If nature wanted to exterminate us, it could do so at any time, without hesitation. If we exterminate ourselves, it will be our fault. Human consciousness is mature enough to know where nature ends and human nature begins. We are not the pawns of nature, condemned to play the victims in a cosmic snuff show. Nature is alive, aware, able, and free to shape itself, through us, based on the choices we make. Nature is not against our survival, and it isn't in favor of it any more than we are. Accidents happen, worlds shake, asteroids collide, and stars explode. There are no guarantees. It's time for humanity to accept responsibility and control of its own destiny.

Learning the value of a good thing the hard way is something that an individual can afford to do over and over again. Civilizations don't have that luxury anymore. "Western" civilization is next in line anyway, dragging all of humanity with it. It has to stop, now.

We need to reevaluate, reprioritize, and become better people, without having to lose all of the good things we have - and are. That is wisdom, my friend, and too many people are sorely in need of it. When I talk about civilization reinventing itself, I want you to know that I don't envision a pie in the sky utopia devoid of competition. We need to work with what we have. Our rotting civilization has serious flaws, but it has an excellent framework. What would you like to make with it? That is the question.

By the way, I'm certain about the room's function now. It works like a lighthouse.

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