This I Believe

Ross - Cape Canaveral, Florida
Entered on February 12, 2007

This I Believe

I BELIEVE in a universe that is beyond complete knowing, yet reveals parts of itself in amazing, mind-bending ways.

I BELIEVE in the beauty of Nature, and the clear evidence—seen in the extraordinary complexity of every living thing, and in the structure and beauty of the most elementary of small particles—for some kind of organizing entity, which many might call God.

I BELIEVE that all other animals, save those altered genetically and behaviorally by humans, are hard-wired into Nature. They are part of the web of life, the very soul of the Earth. They follow instinctual patterns that have worked for billions of years. If an individual breaks free, through genetic mutation or some other alteration in its makeup, the new development will be eliminated if it is not successful at finding a niche in the web of life. What works remains. What fails to work is eliminated (except possibly for those unfortunate creatures of our own making, the genetically engineered species that don’t fit quite right into the web of life, but are maintained by us in spite of this).

I BELIEVE that we humans are on the brink of self-annihilation. Since we are very much part of and creations of Nature, perhaps the errors we make are Nature’s self-corrections, an important truth of Nature, as the malignant species gets excluded by its own inability to adapt to dangerous new situations of its own making.

I BELIEVE that the one clear attribute which makes us human—and so different from most of the other animals—is our incredibly well developed intelligence. It is this intelligence that is responsible for our current course, headed for a distant but barely visible cliff, seemingly mindless of the danger that awaits us. If we become extinct, it will be the result of our intelligence. If we survive it will be because of our intelligence.

I BELIEVE we humans think we have broken free of Nature. We try to manipulate and control it for our own ends, acting as if we know exactly how everything works. But we do not, and this could be the end of us. Our species is like a loose cannon on the deck of a fragile wooden vessel, first careening this way, taking out arms, legs and torsos, and then tumbling that way, breaking essential fasteners and other hardware critical to the proper operation of the ship. We are being put to an ultimate test. Can we use our special gift of intelligence to structure a sustainable human civilization on Earth, or has it doomed us to extinction?

I BELIEVE, as did Albert Einstein, that to save ourselves we shall have to develop a new manner of thinking, built on a new understanding of ourselves and this Earth we inhabit. We must choose our new path to the future, collectively and carefully, with a consensus unprecedented in human history. Only then will true sustainability be possible.