Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Human Condition

We're still deciding on the team, so no updates there. But working on this trip into the wider world, going farther and bigger than I ever have before got me thinking about a lot of things.

I've said before that the human race had reached an evolutionary chokepoint. We're a species on the edge of extinction, staring as a unit into the vast gulf of nonexistence. If such a thing came to pass, if the swarms of undead consumed us (which would be almost fitting--philosophers have been saying for centuries that the only true threat to humankind is itself. This is just a more literal translation of that) then what would be left?

Cities are already crumbling. The process will take years, but eventually the broken windows of the skyscrapers that act as tombstones for the human race would fall. Our bridges will collapse, our monuments retaken by the earth, weathered down to smooth stones. Should we fall, there will be precious little to tell our story. Humanity would be just another species that failed Darwin's test.

Eighteen months it's been now, and still we hold on. More than that. Though we struggle and our numbers dwindle, there are children being conceived and born. What was unthinkable for most of us in the first weeks after The Fall is now happening on a wide scale: a new generation. More people, ones that will live their entire lives in a broken world. Children that will never understand what cable TV was, or be able to simply drive up the road to grab a cheeseburger and a shake.

They won't miss these things. They will only know them in the abstract.

Instead they will live in a world that is a strange hybrid in many ways. We'll have electricity thanks to renewable sources of energy, and our level of technology has taken a beating but hasn't been killed. Eventually we'll have many of the comforts we lost in The Fall. Air conditioning, electric heat. Vacuum cleaners, maybe.

Those kids will also spend their lives learning to survive. To raise livestock, tend gardens not for fun or pleasure, but to live. To eat tomorrow. Every one of them will learn a smattering of skills, from building houses to repairing turbines. They will, by necessity, know the land and trees intimately and with great reverence.

I find this duality appealing, truly.

Pondering a future with those children in it, many of them yet unborn, I pull back mentally and look at the larger picture. The question burning in my mind is the same that many of us ask ourselves time and time again.


The religious sometimes posit that The Fall was the biblical end of days. They may be right, since as I'm not God I have no way to know. The rapture may have come and gone. Yet I wonder: if they truly believe that's the case, then why keep on? They were not the chosen. Are they working toward our goals because their faith drives them to it? Sometimes I'm afraid to ask, but then I remember an important truth.

It doesn't matter.

I personally believe in a higher power, a greater creative force in the universe that exists on such a vast scale that my mind is physically incapable of perceiving or understanding it. My belief is that such a being is too infinitely complex for me to ascribe any sort of intent to its actions. It would work on such a vast canvas that the comings and goings of one race on one planet sitting in the middle of a backwater galaxy would be as far from its notice as microbes are to us.

I don't blame that force for what has befallen the world. Nor do I give it credit for the good I see in people. It simply is, like the sky and stars. We, ultimately, are the masters of our fate.

Because surviving and working toward a better society is not about motive. Human beings as they are now have very few choices in life. You can take the easy route and become a marauder, taking what you want. You can take the harder route and work with your fellow man for the benefit of the group. Or you can die.

That's it.

At this point I don't care why my fellow survivors do what they do. I'm only concerned with the results: a better world for those who come after. Simply going on is not an option for us any longer. It would be the depth of cowardice to merely survive and the worst kind of apathy not to improve what we have. It isn't for ourselves that we should labor, but for the young.

The driving imperative behind every living thing is to propagate the species. Humans are no different. We invent or believe a lot of reasons for doing this, even for going to greater lengths. We're different than the animals because we work to make a better world for our young. That more than anything has been the impetus behind the rapid evolution of human society.

Do not blame God for the situation we're in. Don't expect him to deliver us, either. Not in any kind of miraculous sense. I'm sure that many of you will say that God works through you, and I'm no disagreeing with that. I respect that belief, but I don't care what your reasoning is. You could tell me that inter-dimensional squirrels are driving your body like it's a robot, and I'd be cool with that.

Actions matter. And every one of you out there who've acted with honor and grace are heroes to me. You're what we should be, now and always. Whatever drives you, I respect it for making you the people you are. Because each of you knows it's not about us. It never really was.

So, I just wanted to say:

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

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