Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Funeral for Everyone

A guest post by Mike K. (originally appeared on Nature Bats Last)

[Approximate Reading Time: 5 minutes]

I woke up this morning and realized that I needed to have a funeral for humankind and its civilization story. Since I will probably not be around to witness the last human’s death, I need to mourn our losses and celebrate our victories before I leave. On reflection I realize also that the last human will have no way of knowing that she/he is truly the last of our species. But for me or anyone to know by science and understanding that our collective time on Earth is now short should be sufficient reason to have a funeral before the fact.

The funerals that I have attended that were deeply meaningful were those relatively small gatherings of friends where we recalled our loving relationship with the deceased and celebrated the good things we had shared together. Often people would share their feelings of grief and perplexity in the face of death, but also their more accepting and philosophical stances about the great mysteries of birth and death. There would be some humor and laughter about our departed friend to leaven the sadness we were also feeling. But the essence of these funeral sharings and remembrances would be that at their conclusion we all felt a sense of closure and were grateful to share our grief process within a supportive community of friends. Often afterward we would have a meal together at a really good restaurant in commemoration of our friend’s death and as a final tribute to the blessing of our friendship with him/her, and in gratitude to each other for giving her/him a proper and loving sendoff.

But I have a problem. Even though I have tried to share my knowledge of the near certainty of our near term extinction with some close friends, none of them have really grokked it at the level that I have. Often I get the feeling that they put up with my pronouncements in this regard out of friendship for me, but they don’t really buy into my “doomsday” thinking. I have finally had to accept from my side that they are not going to join me in my dark view of our common near future, and that my best course is to accept their puzzling attitudes, as they have been gracious enough to accept mine. So there is really no question of inviting them to civilization/humankind’s funeral.

So I have decided to invite all you folks on this blog, who are gathered around a dying fire on the beach of doom, to join me in a funeral sharing dedicated to the dying of our species and many others we are taking with us. I will start off with my thoughts and feelings about the great dying we are witness to…..

I have had a problematic relationship to my birth in this realm from the beginning. I am told that my mother’s milk “went sour” and I was weaned early. The philosophy I was subjected to as an infant was designed to make me “grow up” as quickly as possible with a minimum of mothering. I was often left to “cry myself out”. The idea being to make me strong and independent as early as possible, and prepare me for the arduous struggle my parents saw as my destiny in a harsh dog eat dog life ahead of me. This ill conceived treatment almost killed me.

I was intellectually precocious as a child and was bullied at school and at home constantly; my life was a nightmare. I sought refuge in books and fantasies. By the time I entered the seventh grade I had withdrawn from talking to anyone, and constantly wished for death. I was taken to a child psychologist who became the first in a long series of benefactors, and gradually drew me out of my withdrawal, and encouraged my intellectual pursuits. Nevertheless I had many problems ahead of me including alcoholism and other addictions. When I arrived on the doorstep of AA at the age of 28 my life was a total disaster. In addition I was a complete atheist and did not really feel at home with what I took to be a bunch of ignorant believers.

My route into recovery was facilitated by my intellectual curiosity, which had been a constant feature of my life since early childhood. I developed an interest in Zen Buddhism when I had been in AA for a while, and began to explore the vast field of spirituality with the same enthusiasm I had shown in discovering science, music, literature, psychology, and many other areas. I have read and studied thousands of books in my life, and reading is part of my daily routine still.

What I have shared is in order to explain how deep is my love of the highest accomplishments of those best human products of civilization who have shared with us and enriched our lives immeasurably. This was the shrine I worshiped at. This gave me a meaning and a goal for my life. Of course I deeply wanted the best of our global culture to lead us to the highest possible realization of our potentials for knowledge, love, and a mutually shared utopia….

I guess it is apparent that my bright hopes were in direct contrast to the dark years I suffered early on. This deepened the bitter disappointment of the growing realization that those dreams would never be realized.

For again there was a problem: War, Auschwitz, Hiroshima, man’s inhumanity to man, capitalism, the destruction of nature, hubris, violence, lying, insanity…. And now the culmination in NTHE (Near Term Human Extinction). I spent years getting deeper in touch with the dark side of our species. It drove me to despair again and again. Finally I have had to face our awful, total, tragic failure to create a mutual life based on love, truth, and beauty.

So what can I say to this culture and my fellow humans who have succumbed to the worst possibilities within ourselves, and have doomed this beautiful planet to a barren and perhaps lifeless destiny in the near future? I have run the full gamut of dark emotions and dashed hopes about this unhappy affair of our planetary story. Now that it seems nearly over, I simply want to celebrate what was good and forgive what was not; rest in peace all my sisters and brothers….

So if anyone should be moved to say some requiem words and share some feelings and remembrances of their time here on the late great planet Earth…feel free….

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Origins of Evil

[Approximate Reading Time: 30 minutes]

“Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world.”

That's an excerpt from a most interesting 3-part write-up on sociopathy and psychopathy that presents these important issues in light of the predicament humanity faces: extinction (or close to it)

In other words, we're presented with clues as to how we, supposedly the most intelligent species on the planet, the elevated one, so favored that God himself created us in his image, got ourselves into the present time of crisis and torment for Billions of us, not to mention other beings, hundreds of which go extinct every single day.

It's a fool's errand to go looking for the origin of this or that, much less the origin of evil, but the study of sociopathy provides vital clues to understanding modern society and its culture.