On August 14, 2126, the six mile diameter Swift-Tuttle comet will strike the earth. The collision will cause an extinction event that will likely remove all life from the planet in a lone cataclysmic explosion. Huge sections of the tectonic plates that form our land masses will buckle and be hurled from the planet. Some will be sucked back by gravity creating first a rain of rocks and then a rain of dust that will obscure the sun for a couple of decades. It won’t matter because there won’t be anyone to see that part, or to see whether more of what was planet Earth will add to or create another moon. There is no question that the collision will occur, and on time. It’s six mile per second speed is constant and its trajectory is established fact. The explosion will be six billion times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
That’s one hundred and fifteen years hence; it’s merely half of the time our American Republic has existed, crafted by men who had no idea of iPods and Android phones, no less computers and the technologies that let us drive cars as smart as we are –something else I’m pretty sure our founding fathers never imagined. Since that time, the human animal has invented cars, and invented airplanes, and invented rockets so that not only do we travel to all corners of the planet we live on, we have traveled from it as well. We have put men on the moon, for goodness sake. We have sent remote controlled robots to Mars and people like me built nearly as capable robotic devices in their bedrooms. So. Now that our technology has allowed us to see good old Swift-Tuttle hurling it’s way to causing the end of human destiny, what is it we should do with the intervening 115 short years we have left? If we can wrest all of the technology we have from the couple hundred years since Benjamin Franklin flew kites and titillated the British Court while helping to craft a new nation, what can we do in the century we have remaining? The question is that not only could we do something, but should we do something?
Wow. What a defeatist question that was! The thing is, I have been pondering questions of life ever since mine came so close to being lost, and remains still, in fact, in serious jeopardy. I think back to Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park asking the same question –in fact, that’s where I got it. We saw what happened when mankind bent life and evolution to its will: we served up a whole cast of characters as hors d’ouvres to animated nightmares with a taste for primates. Of course, if I leave the realms of fantasy and take a look at what our technology has done for us in real life, well, I have to admit that we managed to destroy our climate, poison our waters, and render a huge cast of animal characters extinct. Michael Crichton’s vision of Jurassic Park was actually a lot kinder than reality has been. At least the fictional deaths were quick. But my point here is that regardless of our good intentions, we have crafted a road to hell because we failed to answer the secondary question of whether we can do a thing; the part where we ask if we should. Then again, with August 2126 hurtling towards us as quickly as the comet, there is validity to asking whether it matters or not.
Let’s say that it does matter. And, what’s more, let’s say that we can muster the technology to extricate human kind from the cosmic bear trap in which our feet are caught. We have a much more difficult task at hand that needs be dealt with before we can move on to technological salvation. We have to learn to cooperate, and before that, to give a damn about our neighbor just as much as we do ourselves. Speaking of wow. Now there’s a task for you. It would appear that over the twin centuries of our nations existence, we have dedicated ourselves to self interest. We have spurts of cooperation here and there, but as with evolution, nothing occurs in a straight graphical line. Like watching graphs of the Dow Jones Industrial Averages, the graph is sawtoothed. And like the Dow, our mutual cooperation has been on a steady downward trend in spite of rallys and spikes. I remember when my father was orgasmic over the idea that the Dow had hit 1000, and now it flirts with ten times that number. But not for much longer. Like the pyramid scheme it is, the Dow will topple as if blessed by Bernie Madoff. Okay, it was blessed by Bernie Madoff. But then, that’s the point here. An inertia of improvement has been created, but the people that upward curve services is a smaller and smaller portion of world society, such that we have created two separate yet very real realities.
Reality is reality, right?
No, not really. Some of us live in an entirely different world than others. My point is not to discuss the class wars, but instead to chip at a more broad target; I’m pointing my finger at all of us. The billions of individuals who all pretty much share a focus on themselves to the exclusion of everyone else. It’s apparently how we’re made and no one appears, in my perception, to be exempt. Even as I am here pointing out that we have become rather selfish, self serving, and self centered, I am doing what I can to feather my own nest using every tool in my kit. So I am not pointing my finger in the courtroom and yelling “J’accuse! I am merely observing a very real component of the human makeup. And I am wondering if, in its power to divide us as well as propel us, if it will be what delays us in achieving the salvation we desire from space inhabiting assassins.
As I sit here pounding the keyboard of my tablet, nine and a half percent of the country’s workforce is unemployed. Actually, the number is much greater than that because our unemployment figures come from those getting or who’re trying to get unemployment compensation, and/or are requesting public assistance for being unemployed or too underemployed to be able to support themselves. Some people have asserted that as much as a quarter of the country is unemployed. Then again, it’s not like the rest, the ones who do have a job, are living on easy street. The fact is that over half of the individuals and families here in the US are struggling in a deteriorating work environment. And we are not alone; most of the world is facing economic disaster, and that depressing fact is accompanied by fast shrinking resources. Food and water scarcity is becoming the next big thing rather than a new technological innovation. With things on this shaky course, I don’t think it’s a fool’s errand to consider that perhaps we should force ourselves to start thinking in more cooperative ways in spite of the fierce genetic urge towards self preservation that causes us to be self centered. What appears to be the route to self preservation is actually just the opposite.
If we don’t find a way to become more cooperative, we’re going to be fighting among ourselves right up until the sky illuminates and heralds the arrival of the final solution to all our woes. But the thing is, if we pause in our efforts to keep ourselves intact, we’ll stop being intact. One only needs to take their eye off the ball for an instant to invite personal catastrophe. There will be someone else right there to exploit the lapse in vigilance and profit from the distraction. If you don’t believe that then I have bridge to Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. Cheap.
It only takes a look at the news to see that exploiting the weaknesses of others is a daily played international sport. The human being is a very competitive animal and a predator besides. So it’s going to take a pretty significant and profound change in human orientation to achieve any kind of secure future. We need to divest ourselves of labels of borders, parties, and even cliques. We absolutely have to embrace diversity and exploit all of the ideas and brain power that can be mustered and focused on a common good as opposed to the private good we revere now. And talk about defeatist, I don’t think we can do that. In fact, I’m sure of it. History is rife with all of the failed experiments in government and finance, and which are repeated again and again as we fall into the same ruts that current thought demands. We need to find a way to think in terms of everyone else being better, smarter and faster than we as individuals and as long as we continue to canonize so called leaders of government and industry, and canonize ourselves as we do it, we aren’t going to get there. People can’t agree on the simple things so I don’t see them agreeing on this. But something is going to have to change, and it won’t be technology. It needs to be all of us who dedicate our existence to making a totally level playing field that benefits no one greater than someone else. Everyone needs to be educated, fed, housed and cared for such that no one needs focus on themselves and their own personal need. The same instant one person has more opportunity, human competition will intervene and short circuit humanity again, as it has in the past and still does today.
There are only 42,000 shopping days left before Armagheddon. Better get out there and get what you can, eh?