In just this month, the world has suffered so many more traumas it’s beginning to feel like the end of the year, not the beginning. So far, earthquakes have been recorded in South Florida, snow, sleet, rain and freezing temperatures have been recorded throughout the Southeastern United States, Russia is on the creep again and a jumbo jet has disappeared – not to mention college basketball upsets.
What’s next? Climate change? Not too many debate anymore that it is happening.
Mass demoralization? Just turn on Fox News to get an earful of just how fast we are all going to hell – led, they say, by Beyoncé, of all people. And Bill Maher has torn us another one in his rant against the biblical God.
Doomsday prophets are having a field day: The end of the world (as we know it) is surely at hand. Right?
Counterpoint: On Sunday evening, I turned on the renewed, updated version of Cosmos and learned that this planet, and all it holds, is just a blip in the scheme of things, evolutionary. Human beings, I learned, are just one of earth’s creatures. We have been here for a nano-minute in the overall age of the universe and, guess what? There may be life on other planets; we may not be alone.
To stretch my imagination further, Cosmos challenged me to speculate that the life on other planets may have developed intelligence. If that notion can be accepted, for a moment, what will the other forms of intelligence make of what’s happening here, on Earth?
Here are some of the questions I speculate about, and which some other “intelligent beings” may also be asking about us Earthlings. What if humankind continues to move, en masse, into cities and become more dependent on manufactured food for survival? What kind of cooperation would that take to feed all the people? Will governments collaborate? Will borders disappear?
Is there enough collective and cooperative human intelligence already here to begin to address this real movement that is actually happening? What if the birth rate continues to decline so that we human beings no longer replace ourselves? Have we “planned” our own extinction?
What if we continue to escalate our hatred toward the “other,” perpetuating wars and other forms of aggressions to wipe out our fellow human beings?
What if the cooler, more reasoned, gene mutates out and we become dominated by trigger-happy, mean-spirited bullies and other tyrants, starting on the playground, breeding leaders who hate rather than love, shooting up schools, stalking black males in hoodies, mutilating females who resist, etc.?
What if? And then along comes Pope Francis. What if his message actually takes hold and we begin to focus our resources on the poor, the disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the weak and the meek? What if my fellow humans become my brothers and sisters?
What if I become their keeper? What if we all begin to behave as if we are not the only intelligent beings in the universe?
That would create a cosmic shift, for sure.
Humankind has only been at it for a short period of time but our rehearsal should be complete and it’s time to raise the curtain. Our main production is to act out our destiny on the world stage, to preserve this host planet, to propagate the species, to record our existence, to go beyond our planetary boundaries and cooperate in life with others.
To other intelligent beings: If you’re out there, we are going to pause for an intermission. We have all those questions to answer, many attitude and behavior adjustments to make, some gene tweaking to perform, many weapons to destroy and retool, etc.
When we get back – with luck it will be in less than another 1,000 generations – we hope you enjoy the second half of this the greatest show on Earth: the regeneration of humankind into “kind human.”