Thursday, January 08, 2009

Is Homo sapiens Worthy of Salvation?

With the current situation in Gaza, my feeling of outrage regarding the crazed behavior of the Jewish State has escalated to a feeling of a deep and abiding despair over the future prospects for the entire human species. Although Israel’s actions are heinous and detestable; although the use of such overwhelming military power by the state of Israel to exert absolute life and death control over their weak neighbors in order to maintain their superiority in the region is criminal; although the deprivation of life and the denial of access to the basic necessities of living such as food and water to an entire population is reminiscent of the behavior of the Third Reich, the problem that faces us is not confined to the Middle East but serves as an indictment of the entire species.

We need to see reality in its truest light. We need to evaluate human behavior in terms of its obvious and relentless manifestations over the long centuries of human civilization. It does not paint a terribly sanguine picture. We now have the ability through technological and scientific advancements to examine and understand the rise, development and eventual demise of many diverse civilizations throughout human history. We have come to understand enough to know that we do not need to rely on superstition or illogical constructs to survive in the world. We now have enough cumulative evidence to realize that violence as a primary method of dealing with real or supposed threats undermines real human progress. Science has provided unambiguous evidence that human behavior motivated by the relentless pursuit of material wealth in almost complete disregard for the consequences of such behavior, is undermining the capacity of planet earth to support human existence. We have the capacity to realize that humans are driven by both the power of the intellect and emotions, and these often work at cross-purposes. This self knowledge is available to all who wish to pursue such enquiries.

In spite of this substantial progress, we act collectively like a crazed mob. In spite of the wondrous organ contained within our bony skull, we are collectively insensitive, brutish, overtly aggressive, self-destructive and essentially insane. In my mind, this conclusion is inescapable in light the stark reality of what humans do to each other and, more importantly, how they do it. Beginning in earnest with the two great wars of the twentieth century, it is no longer enough to confront, humiliate or punish one’s immediate enemy. It seems to have become the accepted norm to obliterate an entire people: to use chemical weapons such as Agent Orange, poison gas or Depleted Uranium, to use bombs, robot planes, cruise missiles, smart bombs, cluster bombs and advanced killing machines to undermine the infrastructure that all human societies require to sustain communal life. This methodology not only kills in the present, but also kills in the future by creating the environment for the spread of disease and creating the groundwork for profound social dysfunction.

We have the wondrous capacity for compassion, healing and sharing the wealth of our intellect and knowledge, yet we pursue a path that leaves the human world horribly conflicted and broken and the natural world in serious jeopardy. We have the innate ability to understand and embrace ourselves and those around us, yet we build and fortify our prisons, insult and injure those who are different than ourselves and act in ways that are injurious to the prospects of future generations. We have the potential to embrace true human freedom, yet we become beholden to constricted and crazed thinking that limits human progress.

Not only can we do better than this, but we must change if we are to have a viable and sustainable world.

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