Une Immmense Espérance a Traversé La Terre

 

It has never been easy for me to express the dark halls of my interior. These catacombs are the vestiges of my internal existence, the architecture that frames my disposition, the oldest homages to my awareness. Supported by evolutionary instinct to carve out a safe place, these narrow aisles of sorrow are searing reminders of self-disdain and contempt; an indulgence of irony, apathy, and defeat.

I’m talking about the sewage drains of my soul.

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Evolution, Overpopulation, and Delusions of Grandeur

Here’s a conundrum that I can’t quite figure out: In nature, natural selection (survival of the fittest) is the predominant force that drives evolution. If an organism’s situation is such that it is less capable of collecting sources of energy than its competitors, it is less likely to survive. If an animal is wounded it is less likely to escape a predator, for instance. With the exception of humans, there seems to exist no moral compass, ethical code, or social contract that prevents natural selection from occurring. If you can’t take care of yourself, you’ll be food for something else.

Humanity seems to have loftier goals than evolution. With our incredible intelligence, our consciousness, our ability to reason and consider abstract ideas that range beyond ourselves, we have insulated ourselves from the forces of nature to some degree. Of course, this can’t be said for every human who has ever lived, but with the advent of culture, we have created a social construct that – more or less – places greater value on human lives.

Specifically, I’m referring to the ideal concept of humanity that all people are created equal, we all have certain inalienable rights, we should be kind to our neighbors, observe the golden rule, share with others, play nice, etc. This seems to make sense in so far as it promotes ability to survive by making sure our basic needs are met, conflicts can be resolved without killing one another, and progress can be made toward a society that places importance upon the highest and most noble characteristics of humanity to ensure that we, as a species, continues to thrive.

This, however, is not quite how it works when material gain enters into the equation. Where do we draw the line  between need and greed? Depends on who you ask. A hedge fund manager at an investment firm may need a better return on their investments to get the multi-million dollar incentive they hope for. A peasant millet farmer in Bangladesh might have a different perspective about what they need.

It doesn’t take much to notice that material gain is, and to some extent, has always been an objective of any given society. In a world with finite resources, people must find ways to earn their keep, stake their claim, and keep others from taking what rightfully belongs to us. Some are better at it than others. Some have more access to opportunities than others. Some are more cunning, more clever, more skilled or better equipped. And in a world with finite resources, those who have power seek to keep it.

Humanity has seen a tremendous increase in technological advancement over the last few hundred years. In an effort to make our lives better, we found ways to overcome the natural order of things. Using our intellect, we figured out ways to manipulate our environment in order to maximize the return. We discovered means to put in less energy in order to yield greater results. And this was good for humanity. It allowed humans to thrive. Move over, evolution – humans have made themselves the king of the hill. We got this.

What is startling to me is how, in such a short span of time, humanity has been able to grow and prosper and yet we continue to encounter tremendous problems that seem to become increasingly worse as we progress.

“Our physical bodies, and our physical brains, as far as we can tell, have changed very little in the past 50,000 years [since the Stone Age]… What makes our way of life different from theirs is culture has taken off at an exponential rate, and has really become completely detached from the pace of natural evolution. So, we are running 21st century software, our knowledge, on hardware that hasn’t been upgraded for 50,000 years, and this lies at the core of many of our problems. All of this is because our human nature is back in the hunting-gathering era of the old Stone Age, whereas our knowledge and our technology, in other words, our ability to do both good and harm to ourselves and to the world in general, has grown out of all proportion.” – Ronald Wright

Let’s assume that the earth contains a finite amount of resources. Let’s also assume that as our technology advances we find that the overall human population increases almost exponentially. Given these factors, at what point do we stop and consider that perhaps our population is outgrowing the resources available to sustain it? And more importantly – and perhaps more frightening – what are we supposed to do about it? When the situation gets so dire that we start going to war with each other over energy, food and water, this idea of equality and unalienable rights flies right out of the window. Which, as long-winded as I’ve been, brings me to the crux of my conundrum: collectively, do civilized humans really exist in a state of heightened sense of morality or, when push comes to shove, are we going to do what any other animal would do and stave off our competitors (i.e. anyone who would stand in our way of obtaining the energy sources we need to survive). Do we really value the sovereignty of others in their quest for the same resources or would we use our power to withhold access to those dwindling resources?

So, I’m stuck. Part of me believes that humanity has the capacity, the intelligence, and the imagination to solve this riddle in a way that is both equitable and sustainable. However, I don’t feel so optimistic about that prospect anymore. We may be clever, but that doesn’t necessarily make us wise. I feel more inclined to compare humanity with a cancer that will devour its host if left unchecked.

“I think we have reached the era of limits. Although we are free, we must live within the limitations of nature. It is impossible to defend models that cannot be universally applied because we would have to start from a premise that some people have rights and some don’t. Thus there is no technological problem, but an ethical one.”  

– Marina Silva

 

Marco Rubio, Star Dust, and Death

In a recent interview with GQ, Florida senator Marco Rubio was asked how old he thought the earth was. As any politician might do, he avoided answering the question by acknowledging that he is not a scientist; more profoundly, he said that the age of the earth – or the age of the universe for that matter – was a subject best left to theologians to argue. You can read it here:

http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/201212/marco-rubio-interview-gq-december-2012?currentPage=2

“I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow.”

The dude is right. The age of the universe, or the earth, or whatever cosmological subject in question, has nothing to do with our society or our economic development. That stuff is out there and we’re right here struggling to survive.

Recent studies have indicated that there is also something else struggling to survive: stars.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/11/universe-making-stars/

While the age of the earth is of no concern to Marco Rubio, certainly the rate of star formation is even more laughable. The idea that the universe might be expanding at such a rate that makes star formation less and less common has no bearing upon our economic policy. Hell, even global warming, which is a much more immediate threat to our survival, hardly enters into our economic policy. So why should Marco Rubio give a shit about the age of the universe, or the age of the earth, or what possibly lies ahead for the cosmos? That’s a discussion for theologians, right?

But I digress.

The real purpose of this writing is for me to express my thoughts on things that are trivial to Marco Rubio. Like the idea that one day, if humans, or some other conscious creatures, look up at the sky, there will be fewer and fewer stars. At some point in the future, all of this will go away. Not just the stars, but our star, the Sun. Which means that this planet, and all the life that is delicately supported by the sun will not survive forever.

If the universe continues to expand at an exponential rate as it does currently, at some point the expansion of space between all matter, molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles, will prevent any sort of connectivity, resulting in a massless void incapable of creating stars, planets, or life.

Politics can’t do anything about it. Certainly, Marco Rubio can’t do anything about it. It’s irrelevant to even think about it because it has no impact on us right now. On a long enough time line there is no sustainable method to ensure the survival of anything. So, make the most of what you have, exploit the resources at your disposal, and smoke ’em if you got ’em. Get rich or die trying.

For me, the idea that star production could diminish to the point of extinction is another indication that everything is limited. Death is real. Not just my death or the people and things I love. The death of everything. We don’t have a solution for that. We probably never will. But we avoid it like the plague. We highlight the here and now to say we can fix this, that, or the other. Pouring water out of a sinking ship prolongs the inevitable. It might create jobs for those who are capable, put food on their plates, a roof over their heads. But don’t even consider talking about why the water is pouring into the ship in the first place. That stuff is for theologians.

“Self improvement is masturbation. Now, self destruction…” – Tyler Durden

Upcoming Album

I’ve been working on recording an album off and on for ten years. I’m excited to share a clip from the upcoming (currently unnamed) recording. It has been a painstaking process and this clip will give just a taste of what to expect. I’d love to hear some feedback. Enjoy!

Profanity Prayers

I’m from a rural, conservative county in northeast Ohio. Surrounded by farms, fields, and churches. It could be argued that it is a microcosm of the “traditional” America that pundits like to reference when trying to stir the warm and fuzzy feelings of, say, the 1950’s. Work hard, raise a family, go to church and pray, pray, pray.

This is, more or less, the world I grew up in.

I’m bringing this up to point out an interesting behavior I witnessed, as observed by the recent election. So many of my Christian friends (which are becoming fewer and farther between) were so disappointed when their guy lost the election. These people were utterly disgusted and totally shocked that their guy didn’t beat the other guy. Some of the commentary was insightful:

“Prayers for our country as it moves further away from Him”.

I had read this statement spelled out several different ways, but the crux of it was always the same: Christians wanted their guy to win for various reasons and because of their passion for whatever hot-button issue. Got it.

“We need to pray hard and fast”.

Besides my desire to make a “that’s what she said” joke out of that statement, I think it’s curious that a prayer is something that can be done hard or soft, slow or fast. That would be like saying someone should vote hard and fast. What does that even mean? But I digress. The point is, when it was becoming clear that their guy was losing on election night, my feed was going off with statements like these.

So, there’s an election. And Christians wanted their guy to win. They prayed, made the other guy out to be the devil, and did their part to make sure that their guy won. Got it.

But their guy didn’t win. He lost. And it wasn’t even controversial. He just flat out lost the election. He lost and now America is doomed to hell because the other guy won. Hell hath prevailed.

This is what I don’t comprehend: Christians wanted their guy to win. Therefore, I am to assume that God must have wanted their guy to win. But their guy didn’t win. So all that praying to God to help get their guy elected didn’t work. All of those words, the disdainful and slanderous banter against the other guy, the repeated efforts and calls to pray for America to elect their guy, pleading with God to do his will through the guy that they decided should be president, all of that for nothing.

I imagine God must have a bucket of prayers and when the bucket gets full he sighs and says “Okay, fine. I’ll intervene and get this guy elected”. Unfortunately, there must not have been enough prayers in the prayer bucket because their guy lost. God must have said “Sorry, Christians. My hands are tied. You didn’t pray hard and fast enough”.

So, it sounds like what you first must do in order to get what you want is overcome the inertia of God’s indifference by praying much harder and faster. Once the prayer bucket reaches a critical mass, God says “Wow. You guys really want this bad, so I’m going to help you get what you want. Because I’m God and I can do anything you want me to do.”

Do you know what this sounds like? It sounds like this God is more of a genie than anything. Rub the lamp hard and fast and out pops a mystical creature that will grant your wishes upon command. But like a good genie in a bottle, you have to rub him the right way.

Here’s an idea: maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t give a shit about the election. Perhaps God is totally disinterested and indifferent to it. And maybe all those hard and fast prayers went unanswered, not because they didn’t pray enough, but because, like the genie, this God is imaginary; a fictional character conjured up to make you feel that warm and fuzzy feeling that those pundits want to remind us of when describing “traditional” America.

Greetings.

This is my first blog post. I have nothing to say other than how confusing this whole blogging thing seems to be. I’ve spent the past hour messing with themes, settings, appearances, etc. Then I realized that there is a website called wordpress.org which seems really cool, but then I’d have to pay for a host domain and then read a bunch of code stuff. 

I’m not that advanced.

For now, I’ll be posting infrequently on things that I’m thinking about, images that inspire me to say something, songs that do the same, and a bunch of other meaningless stuff that makes it seem like I am a legitimate blogger.