It’s our destiny–and Earth’s, really–for us to fork, speciate, and become all kinds of new and interesting things in an extra-solar way.
Alright, let me back up. Sure, I’m being over-optimistic about this. Let me ask, though–is there a point not to? I certainly don’t want to be on the other team.
I’m sick of this idea that life–or that the idea of life–would be better off if humanity destroyed itself (or had never developed). I’ve little time to waste on those who despise their own human experience so very much that they should wish human experience silenced entirely.
Self-identifying as a virus or a pest as a means of subjugating your species’ environmental guilt is a cop out, and further–it’s an ironic slur on viruses, rodents, insects, and any other life you’ve identified with our own species’ perceived evils. Calling ourselves “pests” is the same, oddly enough, as declaring our behavior consistent–rather than deviant–with all other life whose ancestry has afforded them the opportunity.
We must become creatures that recognize our link in the chain. And while we’re another step, we’re not simply another step. We’re damn close to coming to a strange turning point–a step where we can, to a degree, pick our own next step.
But we have to remember: the link belongs to us only insomuch as we occupy it.
In that it will connect every link preceding us with every link following us–continuing the chain of life and building upon that which time, our ancestors, our parents and sheer opportunity have given us–the link does not belong to us alone.
It belongs to Earth–to our Solar System. To the bath of particles and showers of radiation that spawned the stage. We don’t owe it to our species to advance and learn and propagate; that’s too narrow. Until we know that there’s something out there–something else undergoing the same geologic trials of life that accelerate, over eons, to split-second motions and decisions–we owe it to…
…well, to the known universe–to keep the ball rolling to the best of our ability.
Yes, we are cruel. So are many of the beasts 130 million years our cousins. Yes, we’re hyper-reactive. Through fear we can be reduced to thoughtless reaction, and we contain the capacity for the same ruthless efficiency common to our even more ancient cousins.
We’re not perfect. Certainly far from it. There are a lot of bound up tendencies that aren’t worth what they once were to our struggle–but we must be patient with ourselves. It’s not easy to reprogram 600 million years of “fight, poison, run scared or die” in a couple hundred generations.
We are young. We will grow, but it will take time. We may suffer greater tragedies than we’ve known since the darkest days of our fire-keeping history, but we have lived through them before, going on to create art, music, language, and science–a means of understanding ourselves and how we fit in as a piece of this universe.
We’re still dumb. We’re still beasts. We’re still wired for growling and snarling and mercilessness–but that should not condemn us to self-destruction when it’s weighed against what we’ve come to understand.
We aren’t just serving ourselves. We’re serving life, and the universe’s understanding of itself. Yes, we’ve made many mistakes through ignorance of our relationship to our surroundings. But, again–patience and improvement. Disaster and recovery. We will learn. On the timescale of life, our sense of stewardship and our realization of our crucial link to our environment was no more than a thought that occurred a quantum moment ago.
These crazy, violent, horny, somewhat-to-mostly hairless mammals, these information-chaining primate freaks…they have a chance to become something else entirely–to leave the crawling, just-warm-and-cool-enough shifting surface of this simmering ball of liquid metal and rock and realize a level of understanding beyond that which we could ever afford in the safety of our planetary womb.
We beasts from some minor armpit-hair spire on a medium-sized spiral galaxy…some trans-supercluster pitstop far from the outskirts of Virgo proper: a few thousand years from now, we could be lighting the local cluster with an extra-stellar hue that would speak to ancient satellite photos of the tiny swirling marble we were born on.
We have to take care not to fuck it up now. The coming days will grow ever more important, and there are great dangers ahead as there were in the past, as there are even today.
Should we wish to destroy each other more than we should wish to inherit the stars, for instance–our accelerating technologies may yet grant that wish.
We must take care, we must press
on, and some of us–at the very least–must maintain optimism. It’s the fire-keepers and storytellers that keep us warm on the human tribe’s coldest and darkest nights.
But we cannot declare ourselves unworthy of life, unworthy of transcendence, or unworthy of the stars. In doing so, we declare over a billion years of Earth’s great unfolding biogenesis unworthy as well.
Take pride that you are alive. Take pride in your humanity. Live in mind of what you’ve inherited, and what you can leave behind for the next link in the chain.
The past and the future are depending on us.