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The Magnitude of Realization

Updated on January 22, 2017
Painting of early modern human
Painting of early modern human

A Dark History

Humans have come through hundreds of thousands of years of suffering, war, poverty, fear, and superstition. For countless millennia we strived for survival, desperately holding on to any comforting notion of hope. We invented millions of gods to explain away the mysterious and haunting power of nature, that we relied on and yet were at the mercy of. We survived through the harshest winters with only the simplest of tools. Our unstoppable will to survive, our indomitable desire for success, and possibly our intense fear of death and loss, drove us to continue on through the horrific conditions. We pressed on through the darkest of times, and in the face of death we chose to live. The human spirit is strong.

Earth - NASA Satellite Imagae
Earth - NASA Satellite Imagae

Waking Up

We began to understand agriculture, with that we had time to think, to slow down and examine our existence in space and time. To be truly at awe in the universe. As manufacturing and industry improved in the last few seconds of a cosmic time scale, we were able to understand the forces which had left us cowering in fear for so long. We were, and still are afraid of the truth, of waking up to our place in the universe. Astronomers have been burnt alive for questioning the idea that earth is the center of God's universe. We are afraid that if we become aware of our place, we will become aware of our responsibility. Religions, hopeful fantasies, they give us the idea of salvation from this life and the challenges we face here on this rock. Upon waking up we have realized the immense responsibility we carry. We have no god to save us, no superstitious ritual to perform in order to ensure the harvest is plentiful.

So here we are, the earth, life. But now we are the gods, and there is no saviour to turn to. We face global environmental catastrophe, nuclear war, asteroid impacts, overpopulation, and a general sense of the planet as a whole. Now we face the terrifying decision to ignore our collective fate and dissociate in hopes that we die a comfortable death before we begin to face global economic interruptions and failures. We want to ignore it, naturally, our ancestors knew that avoiding anxiety kept them alive. So that is hardwired into my brain as it is into yours. But you see now we are the gods, you and I both have access to all the information known to mankind. We are capable of compiling information to create accurate models of reality which can be turned into solutions for the problems in nature. We used to fear lightning, we had many gods to describe it, but now we are on the verge of not only controlling strikes but harnessing the energy within the extremely powerful burst of static electricity. My point is that we have the capability to create a global change, to avert environmental catastrophe and nuclear war. We're the gods now, we can't chose to cower in superstitious dissociation as our planet, and our future among the stars is willfully plundered by our collective anxiety avoidance.

Waking up is a tremendous change in the life of a new global citizen, it is a petrifying and still exhilarating realization that can't be easily ignored. With it comes a sense of urgency, or a desire for nihilism, which will likely only leave you with regret.

He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.

— Lao Tzu

A Balanced Approach

First understand that it does not come down to changing others but rather changing yourself, along with a recognition that as a comparatively wealthy world citizen your smallest actions have global effects. So when you spend, ask yourself, what am I supporting when I spend this chunk of my life, and do I need it? This is the antithesis of modern consumerist culture, and naturally it will take some time to alter the habitual, and practically genetic nature of greed. But it is simple, vote with your dollar. You can't beg a politician for change when you are still unwilling to change yourself, so you must have the awareness that personal responsibility and the spread of that virtue is the most efficient way to go about changing the world in the span of lets say 5 years. Do not underestimate the rate of change in a global society connected and limited only by the speed of light. This is the last but most important idea: if you can't handle personal rejection, how the hell are you going to change the world?

We are a species of animal which is bringing about the end of the world we were born into. Not out of evil or malice, or not mainly, but because of a lopsided mixture of extraordinary cleverness, extraordinary greed, extraordinary proliferation of our own kind, and a biologically built-in short-sightedness.

— A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok


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