The Fascinating, Creative, Incomparable, Distracted Mind of Man

Writer Kurt Vonnegut said “our big brains are killing us” and
there’s much to be gained from pondering that simple statement. These unique
and fascinating big brains of ours put us at the top of what can only be called
human traits; mystery, innovation,
science, history and a sense of both the future and our own impending death. No
other animal shares that. We are alone and able (if we wish) to contemplate our
collective destiny. But its occasionally nasty work and far more pleasant and
distracting to wander among Kim Kardashian’s momentary antics.

So that’s us, you and me, miracles of evolution,
occupying the planet for a mere eye-wink during its billions of years of
existence and yet changing it as no predecessor has. There’s evidence we humans
may be just another failed

experiment and an equal (if not more compelling)
argument that we have the tools to overcome our collective flaws and sustain.
What is clear is that the planet will
survive, with not much more that a hiccup if we’re relegated to the eternal

It’s a harrowing, narrowing argument and
Vonnegut may be correct that the brain with which we have so miraculously been gifted
may well be killing us off like the dinosaurs. Food for sleepless nights,
twisting in damp sheets.
We know—and
have known for some decades—that our reliance on fossil-fuels pretty much assures
a really nasty endgame and yet we pursue it when benign alternatives are
available. For profit and against all evidence, we happily
continue hell-bent upon burning the furniture to heat the house. We understand intellectually that the rise
of sea-levels will shrink the habitable land we occupy and is in fact already
well on its way to achieving that existential truth and yet we continue—too
busy with the busyness of our personal lives to give a damn.
We understand
that our worldwide population growth is not sustainable. The argument is not
about feeding the world, it’s about what happens when we achieve that goal and
fuel the already-hot fires of growth. Growth
is our national mantra, with little regard for the fact that the definition of ‘uncontrolled
growth’ is also the definition of cancer. Yet we surge onward, beating the drum
of growth, without a moment’s regard for its consequences.
Those of us old enough to have been around
when population totaled 2 1/3 billion (as it was when I was ten years old) at the end
of WWII remember what it was like at
a time when we might have chosen other paths. Yet governments have since chosen
otherwise, so current workers support retirees in a mindless race to the
bottom, a death-spiral of sorts, with a tragic endgame. Corporations joined in,
thirsty for consumers to keep profits
aloft in their fantastic balloon and now
we are consuming it all
Scientists and physicians are aware that overuse of antibiotics, the wonder-drugs we’ve only known
since the 1940s, are pitching us headlong toward uncontrollable and as yet
unknown disease outbreaks—plagues of new and catastrophic dimension. Yet we use
them indiscriminately for sore throats and pump them for profit through our food
chain to fatten cattle.
We’re in a pickle, folks, with rising
seas, uncontrolled population, an overwhelming surge in the inequality of individual
lives and a visible spike in the natural disasters that threaten humanity across
the planet. Certainly not threatening the planet,
that’s utter nonsense—but imperils us as
vulnerable as polar bears and spotted-owls. Albert Einstein said,

cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
While celebrities, cold wars, hot wars,
drug wars, economic debate and political nonsense grab the headlines, the oncoming
train-wreck of our species is largely ignored or papered-over as non-science and avoidable. It’s not. Our
intellect (God or Darwin-given, take your choice) enables us to know it’s not.
We’re better than that. Our short stay
on this planet we chose to call Earth demands
we be better than that or the human experiment is over. Economic and political
competition between America, Europe, Russia and China, as well as the
trumped-up war on terror and military superiority are all irrelevant.
Grab your android-enhanced cell-phone,
while you still have one, and Dial D for
“A person may cause evil to others not only by his
actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to
them for the injury.”
-John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist

1 thought on “The Fascinating, Creative, Incomparable, Distracted Mind of Man

  1. Nice piece.
    Sad, true, but well done nonetheless.

    "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap."
    –Kurt Vonnegut

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