Amblin' Alameda: Humanity and Its Future
Amblin' Alameda: Humanity and Its Future
After careful consideration, I have come to two conclusions: 1. I do love human beings, individually and as a species, and 2. Humans are likely to survive for a very long time, on the order of at least millions of years. Even to me these two conclusions require some explication.
First, as far as loving humans goes. It would be so easy to despise humanity for its continual commitment of atrocities on both the personal and group level. “News” is the litany of rapes, murders, disfigurements, suicide bombings and horrible wars principally conducted against unarmed civilians. It would be equally easy to despise us for our craven cowardice in the face of determined bullying. Entire countries bend the knee to determined dictators after only a few public killings, and stay in thrall for generations. Even easier to despise us for our acceptance of clearly irrational beliefs and prejudices, religion and misogyny leap to mind, which place one group in distinction from all others and which place males above females in the hierarchy of importance. These characteristics are all true and go on in full force today, long after the means of knowing better have been available to all humans.
Still, when a group of humans are left to their own devices they form family groups, make homes and villages, feed themselves and others and prepare a future for their children. We have developed medicine over the millennia and science over the same period and both are expressions of realistic altruism. That peace and order and care for children and the elderly is the base line of human activity is of no small value. We may not yet have learned how to handle despots and gangs of murderers easily, but we have learned how to handle smallpox and a host of other diseases. Health care is the crowning glory of human effort so far and I believe that in the next hundred years it will develop beyond our current imaginings and leave us with a healthy population throughout the Earth.
And our children are still being born without prejudices, happy, alert, fun-loving and ready to love the world. As soon as we stop filling them with our own vicious and murderous and intolerant ideas we’ll have a generation of caring lovers.
For these intrinsic characteristics - home-making, altruism and innocent babies - I love humanity. For their intelligence, beauty and complexity I love many individual humans, not all of them women (but most).
As far as living for a long time into the future, I rely on two aspects of humans. For one thing it’s harder to kill us all than it is to wipe out the rats and roaches. Just two fertile people can repopulate the Earth. We have seen populations decimated, infrastructures in shambles, famine rife in the land and disease rampant. We have seen these things and immediately we also see help arriving and people beginning the rebuilding process. We are like the social insects in that respect and act as though we’re one huge organism.
For a second thing, I don’t believe that science is reversible. We have built a global system of education and communication that has thousands of nodes and hundreds of millions of graduates and adherents. I don’t think either the systems or the information can be put back into any box. We essentially are already living in a global community with the same aims and goals and methods around the world. A middle class life, educated children, good governance and freedom to live life’s adventure as we are able are universal desires. And despite ongoing wars and pestilence and destruction of our habitat the species overall is making good progress towards those goals.
It may take many more generations for the peoples of the globe to all be on the same cultural page but they are already all in the same book. Teenagers today are more like each other culturally and socially than they are like their parents. Globally cooperative organizations are how we trade, navigate, observe the earth and communicate. These ties can only grow stronger as they are the basis on which all people make a living. Global warming will continue to change the shape of the world and the details of living but global warming will be dealt with in a scientific way, ultimately, and the adjustments we make will be within the boundaries of the shared culture.
It is not news that John and Jane have settled down to raise a family, or even that the majority of breeding age humans are doing so, but it is news that more of the world is building things up at any given time than tearing them down. Seen from Mars, humanity looks like trouble. We’re able, active and not leaving the scene anytime soon.