Save The World

Mr. E Poet has done me a grave injustice, positing a question near and dear to my heart and then failing to have me note it until I was ready to depart on the little adventure mentioned the other day. I am not one prone to immediate reaction or quick reply; however, in this case I have many, many years of rumination to fall back upon.

Is the world worth saving? Are the people of the world worth saving?

I am a strong believer in the interconnectedness of things, both in physical terms and in the more metaphysical sense. I view mankind as a whole, even though I must perforce deal with individuals at every turn, and as such I feel there is something worthwhile in the species. The climb up from ignorance and savagery has been breathtaking to behold and I have noted before that I see such things as more than a manifestation of the genetic imperative. I strongly believe there is a destiny that awaits mankind should the race survive to attain it.

Beyond that simple statement, the issue becomes rather more complex. The realities of the calculus of human interaction are brutally direct: some prosper, others do not. This is true of what I like to refer to as social processes of evolution as well: some societies prosper and others do not. Some societies are sick and they evince symptoms of that sickness in various ways. Corollary to that, and in concert with Mr. E’s commentary, healthy societies carry symptoms of sickness and sick societies show signs of health. Nobody has yet defined a Law of Nature whereby determining one from the other is required to be simple and straightforward. Such realities are grist for those who work the mill of “the world is going to hell” with such gusto.

I make my judgments based on samples, both of those I meet daily and those I encounter through their on-line personalities. I troll nightclubs and libraries for more than sex and good reading. I have no burning need for classes in symbolic logic or “Physics for Poets”, nor am I driven to sweat away at exercise clubs for my health, rather I make these efforts as a means to understanding. I go to yard sales, AA meetings, poetry readings, rock concerts, churches, grocery stores, shopping malls… in short, any place where people do the things that make up daily life. When taken by the notion to feel the pulse of society I wallow in those places people frequent rather than looking exclusively to news and journals and commentaries. I ask no pointed questions, take no surveys, and offer no carefully provocative opinions. I merely listen, remember, and ponder.

What do I take from all of this? Simply that to ask if the world is worth saving is the wrong question. The world will go forward regardless. Society will evolve in to what it will, directed by the ebb and flow of its peoples and their own sense of culture. If one is moved to ?save the world’ one should do what comes naturally. Some are driven to take an active role in those endeavours they feel best suited to making the world around them a better place to live in, be it a cleaner world, a safer world or a world of greater wealth and plenty. Others are motivated to turn those energies inward, concentrating on family and locale. Saving the world can be as simple as raising your children to be critical thinkers who are aware of their own connection to those about them.

What will be saved? Humanity is moving towards something. That this something is difficult to define is immaterial as the process moves forward apace regardless. It is simplistic to see segments of the world’s populace in desperation and proclaim human society a failure: evolution of societies, just like evolution of species, often leaves wreckage in its path. To witness such and be moved to ameliorate suffering is noble. To witness such and proclaim humanity a failure is foolish. To witness such and demand that successful societies be reduced to penury in an attempt to enforce some ephemeral form of equality of outcome is worse than foolish, it is criminal. It is treason against the species.

This history of human evolution is littered with the remnants of failed experiments. The predecessors to Cro-Magnon man did not settle in to sleep one night and awake upon the morn a new species. The evolved, improved Man slowly drove out and destroyed the creature that had come before and Mother Nature, were it such a cohesive entity, shed not a tear in the passing. Throughout history the societies created by Man have each preyed upon the weaker, less dynamic structures that predated them. The United States of America is an indisputable example of just such a phenomenon- a society seemingly designed to draw in the best, brightest, most driven and adventurous souls from the world over and forge them in to a somewhat unified entity that has grown in a virtual eye-blink in to the most materially, militarily and culturally powerful nation on Earth. If this sounds like cheerleading for the American experiment, well, to a degree it is, but I am uniquely disposed towards understanding that what exists today is in itself temporary- something will evolve out of the United States of America, or it will be supplanted by a more dynamic, more efficient, more driven society in the future.

In the science of Humanity little, if anything, is permanent.

Save the world by living in it and doing what you feel driven to do. Save the world by raising your children to be thinking, critical beings. Save the world by drawing bright lines to proscribe what is tolerable and what is not, and enforce them. Save the world by never losing hope, by refusing to surrender to those forces that whisper defeat and despair. Beyond that, the world and the people in it will carry on without you, perhaps even despite you, moving along paths determined by forces we can only dimly perceive and merely pretend to understand.

One final warning: beware those who purport to have all of this figured out, for they are lying, or deluded, or both.

4 Responses to “Save The World”

  1. Zsallia;

    I wouldn’t offend you for all the world, and your insight is particularly valuable. If anyone can be said to have perspective when it comes to human nature, it is you.

    Initially, The Question was a means to find some external encouragement to do something that is unpleasant, somewhat dangerous, and that no one around me was willing to do, but that I new, deep down, that I would do anyway because it was the right thing to do. Your response, though, has struck upon the long-term question of the value of acting in the best interest of society at large, rather than personal interest.

    I think the heart of the question rises from humanity’s peculiar penchant toward inhumanity. Of all people, you may understand what I mean when I raise the topic of the collective weight of the centuries of cruelty people have perpetrated against each other.

    In your lifetime, have you seen a noticeable shift toward compassion? Have we learned, or even begun to learn, that kindness towards others is not just a pleasant habit, but an absolute necessity if we are to continue as a species? If so, I can’t see it, though I confess to myopia on the subject.

    Before you disparage my postulate that kindness is vital to our survival, let me clarify what I mean. If we accept the concept of human evolution (and I mean macro-evolution), then it is in the interest of humanity to move toward greater and greater levels of cooperation in order to ensure that ideas are shared and dispersed, cataclysmic events are survived by appropriate numbers of people, desirable genetic traits are passed to the widest possible cross-section of the next generation, etc. Evolution on all fronts (physical, intellectual, and sociological) would appear to demand that if cruelty continues to be common practice, then those who are most effective in selfishness will rise to the top of the pyramid. If such is the case, can Federalism, or any other society that relies on something other than force to rule, long survive? If we isolate ourselves from others because of distrust, which would surely be the case if we degenerate into a society that ceases to value kindness, what will the long-term repercussions be?

  2. Zsallia;

    Excellent advice, if I follow: to ensure the survival of humanity, do the human thing, tend to your own vine and fig tree.

    Go! Enjoy your vacation! ::smile::


  3. I think mankind has a destiny. Like you, I also haven’t a clue as to what it is. I find it refreshing for someone so well versed in the world and arts such as yourself to have an optimistic outlook. So often, artistic souls are dark ones, ones that dwell in dispair.

    I believe Lincoln said something to the effect, that everything is transitory, in the often qouted line, “this too shall pass”. Obviously it’s hubris to believe we are the penacle of achievement, eventually as you say, we’ll evolve or be supplanted.

    But not today.

    I like to think of the unbroken line that is family. A form of immortality, my son and daughter have my eyes, my wife’s mouth, and we in turn have features and talents that were bequeathed to us by our forebearers. I will not see the turn of the twentyfifth century, but my blood will flow in the veins of one who will. They will see what has become of us, wether we were a successful experiment, or a failed one. I take a comfort in that.

    I see the centuries in my childrens eyes, the past and the future. I hope that we continue to learn, to grow. So maybe someday when our sun grows red and then cold, my eyes will see mankind’s future continue. A different world, different stars perhaps, but an unbroken line of aspirations and wonder.

    I’ve bookmarked this place, I hope you don’t mind if I stop by from time to time.

  4. Mr. E if I may,

    In your lifetime, have you seen a noticeable shift toward compassion? Have we learned, or even begun to learn, that kindness towards others is not just a pleasant habit, but an absolute necessity if we are to continue as a species? If so, I can’t see it, though I confess to myopia on the subject.

    I think maybe your prospective is too short, this isn’t intended in a mean way, but as a different perspective. Mankinds recorded history is about ten thousand years. Our species has been here maybe 20,000, and going all the way back, possibly two million years. A single lifetime is as momentary as a breathe when measured against the whole of our time on earth. A single lifetime is simply too short to grasp the magnitude of the changes we undergo.

    If you consider that for the first 9,850 years of recorded history slavery was an accepted practice, then you see what I mean. Universal illiteracy until the invention of movable type made books cheap. Child labor abolished in most of the world,… most of it. Death was so easy and cheap, and yet now we worry about our ability to feed the billions of the world. Diseases fought, wars while still a plaque, aren’t fought as easily or as arbitrarily as in the past. No one dies for Kings anymore, but at least in our case for an ideal, freedom. The pace of change doubles, then redoubles, moving faster and faster with each generation. While humans aren’t any different than from the bronze age, our knowledge is growing like a virus unrestrained. I believe it’s a good thing.

    In the years since our founding we have learned much, changed much, I don’t see that trend stopping any time soon. On the small scale of one mans eyes the evils of man are easy to see. The light we can achieve is there too, you just have to look a little harder, and be open to it when you find it.

    People as a mob are evil. But we aren’t always a mob. Sometimes we can even find greatness in the tinyest of places. My daugthers hand is so very small, but I see everything worth saving in the tiny palm of her hand. You have to have hope, my life may be one that I’ve filled with past regrets, but not her’s, not yet. There lies the hope that things can be better. If not for me, than for her.

    That is the driving force of our history. Our children and the world we wish them to live in. No other motivation could account for what we have achieved in so short a span of time.