I stopped blogging for a while in June because at the time I really wondered if humanity was going to make it. I still don’t know the answer, but somehow we humans continue to slog forward. From the moment of the Big Bang we’ve been put on a path, governed by physics, and I’m not sure where it’s going or how it will end.
During my last ramblings over the summer, I talked about how the pandemic will be a test for us. Somehow, despite all the denial, anti-maskers, hoax claims, and conspiracy theories, we seem to be surviving, for now.
What I learned from the virus is that it has evolved right along with our cells, going back millions of years. Learning how to exist by hijacking cells was an amazing feat, and as long as life has existed we’ve had to deal with viruses. They plague many living things, and we somehow all just learn to live with them.
So, why is the virus here? It just is, and we are here because we just are. This makes it harder for me to believe in God because everything appears happenstance.
Every day I still wonder if humanity even needs to be here. When I hike I find junk and trash in the farthest corners of the forest. Our oceans are full of plastic. Our soil has wastes from a thousand different chemicals. And the air we breathe is just as bad. We are just one of 8.7 million species on this planet. We have no more right to be here or more rights than any other species. Yet, we pillage and destroy, and kill and harm our fellow lifeforms every fucking day. What gives us the right?
When I started blogging in 2004 I wanted humans to survive so that we could colonize the Universe, but then I realized we’d be screwing up other planets too. Then I thought we should survive so that we could be the caretakers of the planet. Now, I’m thinking we do more harm than good.
While the science is solid, I still have to hear people question climate change. What these people are doing is simply denying science, often because it conflicts with the religious dogma that was drilled into them as children.
If I may say, just being alive is freaking weird. We are given consciousness, which no one can really explain, and we are expected to DO SOMETHING WITH IT. We keep making babies and growing the population as if everything is okay. Trump supporters boast about GNP and the stock market to show the success of “their guy,” but all that means to me is that the rich are getting richer. And when the president removes environmental and labor protections to rev up the economy and Wall Street, all he’s doing is making himself look good now at the expense of our future.
No matter how elaborate our religious stories are, we are still organic animals who must fight against cancer, viruses, bacteria, and, most importantly, each other. I suppose our end goal is to find happiness, horde junk, or find some inner contentment from reading the Holy Bible or an Eckhart Tolle book or the latest copy of Mad Magazine.
Every breath we take and every moment we are alive is special. Albert Einstein got the math right, and we know that time is a component of matter. Yet, we live and die, and our cells break down the moment the oxygen stops.
I recently watched a documentary where soldiers from five different wars talked about killing people. A few of them lamented on the fact that once they killed a person it was sobering to see just how dead they were — lively, happy men, with families and girlfriends, and maybe wives and kids, were suddenly a heap of deteriorating cells.
So, in this solemn reality, we all grasp for meaning in a world where there is none. I made the mistake of watching too many of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s shows and videos. Neil doesn’t like being called an atheist or a member of the “atheist community.” He is just an astrophysicist, and I am just a curious learner, and what I learned is that there is simply no work for God to do — the universe runs by itself. But I desperately try to reconcile my childhood religious beliefs with my knowledge of science and, well, maybe God is the universe itself, and maybe EVERYTHING has a consciousness, and maybe EVERYTHING is alive and stays alive, in a weird sort of way.
I’ve also followed the work of Francesca Stavrakopoulou, the famous British biblical scholar, and she convinced me that Jesus really lived, although little else in the Bible is true. I now see Jesus as an evolutionary “marker” along with Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandella, and Martin Luther King Jr. What I mean is that these men were evolutionary social mutations that gave us humans examples and ideas that have kept us from exterminating ourselves. The teachings of Jesus Christ were hundreds of years ahead of their time, which leads me to believe He was truly someone special. An alien, maybe? Or an incredible thinker who saw how humans should really live to survive?
What I see in America is Christian Nationalism, which has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s just like the National Socialism in Germany (Nazism) had nothing to do with socialism. Jesus never mentioned abortion, yet evangelicals make that their sole issue, along with gay-bashing, and ignore all the other teachings of Christ. In fact, to really follow the example set by Christ would make you a liberal and if you follow the teachings in the book of Acts, you’d be a communist.
So, I try to follow the example of Christ, and I love him for his humility. If people follow a leader just because he’s “pro-life,” but morally abhorrent in every other way, well, I think you are being played for a sucker. The real Christians in this world are author John Pavlovitz and Jimmy Carter. If we follow their examples we might have a chance.
Out of Place
All my life I’ve felt out of place. I’m the classical square peg trying to fit in a round hole. No one gets me. And, if I may give one message to everyone, I will say that we need to start thinking about some sort of new way of living where we can all have a warm shelter and enough to eat and that we can live in a way that doesn’t harm the earth or wildlife. THAT’S ALL I ASK. Instead of following this logical path we get caught up in Trump’s Tweets, misleading memes on Facebook, fear-mongering, and endless conspiracy theories. When a group of nutbags flew jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we got distracted from the serious environmental threats and became obsessed with social threats. But what are the root causes of terrorism? Is it all about feeding families? It is all about making your diety happy?
The irony of Christ and Christianity is that by the 1500s Catholics and Protestants were torturing each other, and by the 1600s massive land battles were being waged in the name of God. What got missed here? What are we still missing?
Derrick Jensen, the author of Endgame, was one of the key people who helped me awaken in my early 40s. He still does short video clips that feed me. Maggie Sargent is a YouTube creator who gave me comfort in knowing that there are at least a few of us who dare to question and challenge our culture.
In summary, I don’t know what to say. This year has brought humanity real challenges, primarily a global pandemic and a deranged president. Our reactions to both these challenges were poor, but in the end, we pulled out of the fog of craziness.
I think our species will find a way to survive, but then what? Are we going to get a grip on our 500 years of degrading the earth’s atmosphere? Are we going to clean our oceans? Are we going to learn to live together? Can we get the poorest among us a meal and a warm place to sleep at night, or do we have to keep cowering to the all-consuming capitalists, who mutter “pro-life” to get the evangelical vote, and then continue their exploitation of the earth and cheap labor?
Just look at that little animal. He’s a fantastic and efficient organism, brought to you 66 million years ago from the Middle East. One landed on Mike Pence’s head to try to tell him that science is real, and religion is not, and that climate change is really, really real. But Mike didn’t listen. Maybe Indiana will take him back, but I hope not.