Linking us together. All “seven billion and counting” of us. Here is the irony, and that is usually the first thing that will slap you awake. Never before has the earth been trod upon by fourteen billion feet at once. (I know, it’s a rough estimate, but I figure for every unfortunate amputee who would reduce the number, there is some freak on the cover of the Enquirer who was born with three legs). Never have we had so many people, roads, modes of transportation, and sophisticated electronic, nearly magical devices to connect us. And yet we continue to pursue new ways of linking us up even more. What is with that?!
Joel Osteen and the legions of Jesus-for-a-modest-fee broadcast evangelists would say that we need to reconnect to Our Savior and this prevalent feeling of distance between us would vanish. Then we could all pray together in blissful spiritual lockstep, under the banner of the only God that really matters. Self-help gurus of both the secular (Tony Robbins, Dr. Phil, Dale Carnegie) and the New-Age/spiritual (Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle) stripe would assert that the feeling of separateness is an illusion which our egos perpetuate to keep us bound and which we possess the power to conquer through inner growth and strength, thus becoming truly connected. I’m sure there are elements of profound truth in both of these perspectives. Even the bumbling Homer sapiens occasionally stumbles upon a shard of truth while belly-flopping into the shimmering pool of Bud Light.
Here’s another possible explanation. There are too fucking many people. People need stuff to live. Stuff like food, water, parking spots. With the finite resources of the planet and the limits of the human-devised systems of production, stuff is becoming dearer by the day. Ask the animals, they’re going extinct with the speed of rising fuel prices. We can’t let them have their stuff and ours too. We were granted dominion after all. With so many people needing their stuff, stuff becoming harder to get, and people crammed into the urban density, every one of your neighbors is a potential stuff-stealer. You’ve got to keep the bastards at arms length. So we are now fortified, gated, dead-bolted and security-blanketed to the max. And we still want to wave to each other across the jail yard. I love it. The feeling of alienation isn’t necessarily only a perception, it’s a virtual reality which we have created. And it’s going to continue to accelerate, with more and more perceived need for creature comfort being muscled-out by dire survival-based actual need.
This posture that we now assume in an at least apparent need for self-protection is not a social problem. It’s not a spiritual dilemma. It is simply a natural reaction of organisms to change and pressure in their environment. It’s a giant science project. Too many rats in the cage, some are going to make it and some are not. And I’ll bet that them that does are the most aggressive, single-minded and self-focused. The Law of the Jungle, if you will, but not a moral quandary. Just is, that’s all. Not a problem. That’s natural. That’s God. I actually take great comfort in the thought that just as the cockroaches and alligators kept watch over the blue ball for hundreds of millions of years (a little less than a week by more conservative estimates), they are poised to take the job again, guarding our precious planet for another string of eons while Mother Nature cleans up after the last nasty house guests have shit in the parlor and bolted on the bill. She’ll need to call ServiceMaster for this one.
To those who find this viewpoint unduly cynical, I say this. Just remember when world globes where as flat as a flounder, disease was thought to be generated by demons, and people were developing the art of hacking off heretics’ heads. Yes, mankind has always had a flair for pomposity and smugness. Science and religion have both played a role in this long-running farce, a veritable smash laugh-riot. As sure as we have been about everything, that’s exactly how wrong we have consistently been proven to be, even by our own measure. In spite of our Deep-Woods Off, I really think the mosquitoes are going to outlive us. Maybe we’re not so damned special after all.
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