The Great Test
I am not very optimistic about the future. And there are times when I am very sad about it.
I am sad because I think humanity probably missed an opportunity to create a very different type of civilization. A civilization that prioritized emotional well-being, species consciousness, basic rights to all, sustainable economic and environmental policies, and peaceful exploration of outer space.
Instead, what seems likely to me is that humanity has resigned itself to face a tremendous test in the near future--with no guarantee that it survives that test.
A component of this test is environmental. The amount of garbage and plastic that exists today is so vast, it is an indelible part of the geological record. All life on this Earth is threatened by a great extinction event -- the sixth in 540 million years. And scientists are ever forced to revise their “worst case” scenarios regarding man-made climate change, as new research points to a far more drastic series of changes that await humanity by 2100.
Another component of this test is political, social and spiritual. Humanity has all the tools it needs to cope with these changes and to build a better world.
But for some reason, it doesn’t.
Cooperation amongst the species, greater harmony with Nature, better decision making and a more honest pursuit of justice are all things we know in our hearts to be good, admirable things. Yet it is easy to look around and see that these are the absolute last priorities for major governments and corporations today.
Let’s call the mix of all these elements the "Great Test."
I believe, very truly believe, that we will all bear witness to the reality of the Great Test in not too short a time. I believe that within a decade, and even before then, the reality of things will be impossible to ignore. There will come a point when refugee crises, weather events, and geo political tremors will be too extreme and too daily. All of humanity will have to confront the fact that in every major aspect of life, the world is in dire straits. That humanity itself is at stake.
Given that Great Test, how will humanity respond? Will humanity doom itself?
Or will humanity change?
I don’t know the answer to that question. But I think the way that question is answered will reveal some fundamental truths about human nature.
The fact that humanity is even in this predicament is certainly an indictment of humanity’s supposed “intelligence.”
There is no doubt that our ingenuity for engineering and weapons has made us the dominant species on the planet.
But we seem to lack the ability to change our ways in the face of long term predictive science.
And we seem to lack the desire to change our ways when the solutions might require us to become more pacific, civilized, and better at sharing the vast abundance of the Earth in a less stratified manner.
My ultimate prediction is that we will mostly fail the Great Test. I give us a D+, or C- at best.
But, I think that might be good enough.
I think if we can avoid an F, that might be all we need.
And like any earnest student, we’ll have to pick ourselves up and hopefully do better.
Maybe that will prompt us to be fundamentally better humans on an Earth that will be much warmer, with much higher sea levels and greater weather extremes.
Maybe that is the phase our species needs to go through before humanity can truly take its place amongst the stars.