This I Believe

Joesph - Nashville, Tennessee
Entered on January 1, 2008

I believe in our will to survive, in spite of ourselves. My grand daughter, Lily, celebrated her first birthday last week. She could not be more perfect, lovely or delightful. She brims with life, love and an infectious vitality. I want her, my daughter and all of my family to thrive and survive, of course, as much as I want to survive myself to watch all of them grow and prosper. That instinct is innate within all of us. Yet, I’ll admit to being conflicted when it comes to the survival of my species. Call it existential nausea, middle aged angst, whatever, but it all began for me thirty five years ago in college and with Darwin. It was as though the moment he put pen to paper and espoused his theories that our own evolution turned inward. Call it involution if you will. Once I delved into Darwin my place and all human’s places in the world would never look the same to me; even, I must admit, my own grand daughter’s place. I worry for the world she’ll inherit.

You see, I believe that our universe is one, vast, living organism. By extension, I believe our planet, earth, is itself a living organism and just an infinitesimal part of the billions and billions of other living organisms which make up the entire living universe. As living beings upon this earth, we too share in the make up of this living universe, along with every other plant, animal, atom and microbe which subsists here on earth and every molecule of the universe. However, our own Darwinian will to survive, as individuals first but as a species in the secondary, sometimes casts our place upon this earth and indeed within the universe, in doubt. Are we a positive presence on this earth and in the universe? Are we benign? Could it be that we are perhaps a net negative presence? I believe, to this point, we have proven to be the latter.

When a cancer cell appears in our bodies it can propagate exponentially, without regard for its host. The cells voracious appetite for survival leads to it eventually consuming the very entity which allows it to exist in the first place; therefore seeing to its own demise as both an individual cell and as a collective body of cells. This relationship is not unlike our own relationship with our planet and the universe. We humans soil, devour and destroy our host planet voraciously and at our own peril. I believe that as long as our own individual will to survive surpasses that of our collective wills to survive, that we will continue to be a negative force upon our planet and within the universe. It is not enough to make to world a better place just for more humans. That will only hasten our demise as a species. It is more about first becoming a more benign presence and then, hopefully, a more positive one, on our planet and within our universe.

I believe that our own moment of collective enlightenment, as an entire species, born of that moment Darwin fist penned his theory, has been happening for well over a century and will continue to happen. Yes, it is a slow and sometimes painful process, wrought with political, personal and spiritual conflict. But I believe until we can transcend our own selves and truly think of our children, grandchildren and the world we leave them, that our enlightenment will not be complete. I believe my grand daughter, Lily, will be more enlightened than me and that her grand children more enlightened still. This I believe, because I must.