Why did humans receive this gift? How come it’s us? Somewhere in our history, that spark was bestowed on us. This spark of self-awareness: This gift – or curse.
Self-awareness, Soul, Essence... whatever you call it. Whatever level your education, whatever your religion, and for whatever reasons you may think; we all as humans have it. Only we humans possess this! There are no other creatures on Earth that have a soul... Let me leave off for a bit... some of you readers will disagree with me. But as my reasoning continues, and my subject becomes clearer, I hope that you can understand.
In the beginning, God created the Earth. Well, not actually in the beginning, more like closer to the now. On it He placed every living creature, beast, cattle, and every creeping thing; and whales, and every fish in the seas; and all the birds that fly in the firmament between earth and heaven. Yeah, “God” made all of it... OH! and He thought it was good! And He slept and worked and slept and made light, day, night and dark. Busy guy, eh?!
Then He created “man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Very poetic! This according to the KJV of the Bible, Genesis. Personally, I’m not sure I can quite swallow this edict, but there it is.
So we have Earth, animals (including birds, bugs, fish, et al), All manner of vegetation, and minerals, and water... LOTS of water! And somewhere slinking in the middle of all this mess are us. Humans. You can tell that we belong here, because we have an internal skeletal structure that is too similar to many other animals, than is different. We have actually been able to transplant bits of pig into humans temporarily (heart-valves). We are some kind of “animal” that is an “earth-animal”. BUT WAIT!
Why is it us? Why haven’t the Pigs become the dominant species? How come it isn’t them transplanting human heart valves into some aging, well-to-do swine? Is it something as simple as our “opposable thumb”? Nope. There are other species that have thumbs (even on their “feet”) and can manipulate things, tools and the like to their advantage. There are countless species that use some things that we Humans would call “tools”. So it’s not tools, and not thumbs that make us Human and the dominant Earthling. It is our Soul. Where did we get it?
Let’s see, now... I know that many of you will tell me (the ones of you who’ve had dogs as pets) that all animals have souls. I don’t entirely disagree with you (I myself actually believe strongly in the Buddhist ways). But let me go on further. It’s the Human emotional soul that I am talking about. Does this disconnect us totally from the rest of Earth? Nope. That’s impossible. We are so much a part of the earth. We need the Earth.
This having been said, does the Earth need us? Nope. The Earth will get along fine without us, just as it survives without the Dinosaurs, the Dodo Birds, the Sabre-toothed tigers, Neanderthals, and the Native population of Newfoundland, the Beothuk. We are part of the natural fauna of Earth, but not essential.
Should the Earth feel sad when we depart? Does the Earth have any of these stupid emotional outbursts when one of its species vanishes? Nope. Some other group of creatures “fills the void” when one has gone.
There is a fertile valley in Siberia. It was a beautiful, lush Valley which was warmed with thermal vents, which sped up spring for many animal, bird, insect and plant species. Quite recently, the mountainside slid down to the valley, wiping out many of the birds and bears. This was quite devastating to the local populations. They may or may not recover. Some of these sub-species may be lost. Does this matter? If one kind of bird with black and white stripes that eat the bugs that live in the river is gone, only to be replaced by a bird with white and black stripes that eat the bugs that live in the river, does the earth care? Should we?
Sometime in our history, we were given an ability to “care”. This is helpful when raising your young. It’s a good thing to be able to have concerns about the welfare of your children if you wish them to grow up and keep your genetic heritage going. This “caring” that we have (in normal people) is innate and natural. It is not exclusive to Humans. Many species of animals “care” for their young. Some are even able to “care” for other species surrogately. We humans have other emotions that some other creatures seem to possess; Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Joy. I have seen many dogs, cats and birds all showing these “emotions”. Let me go back to “Caring”.
Human Caring has grown recently. I’m sure that most of us have heard stories from Grandma, saying how bad things were: the Great Depression, “Bennet-Buggies” and no food. Grandma’s stories usually included “Us vs. Them” stories. War forced families tighter, and separated emotional caring for one’s neighbours. Sure, if all the ‘boys’ were away to the front, then you’d look to your neighbour to help in the harvest. But all-in-all, most of Grandma’s stories told of how steadfast people were, “You had to be in those tough times”. “You’d pray to God that the boys lost were someone else’s, not yours”. After WWII, the Depression, and the Dustbowl: When the “Boys came Home”, emotions were allowed back. “Caring” was again allowed to be shown, and it grew as the baby-boomers were born.
Our ability to care seems to have grown as our faith has waned. These Baby-Boomers will mostly complain about their uncaring fathers – cold, quiet men who “did the best they could”, but never really cared. God-fearing boys who went to fight for God and country, who saw things, did things, and became things that they weren’t ready for. Boys, who came back as “Men” who were immediately given responsibilities far beyond many of their capabilities. The Boomer kids raised themselves. Questioned their fathers, questioned God... The Boomers read books, smoked drugs, dropped acid, "Turned on, Tuned in, Dropped out”, and generally gave up on the Christian God for a while. While all this happened, huge consumerism flourished. Houses, Highways, Cars and Cities were built. The Boomers who didn’t kill themselves with drugs or drink or Viet Nam protests grew up and are now concerned (funny, but they didn’t show this concern until recently. Maybe ‘cause they’re afraid of dying?). But they’ve grown up with a lack of faith, so they have started to channel this “concern” or “caring” to other things.
First it was Pandas. All the Panda bears were becoming extinct. This will never do! We need Pandas! The Earth needs Pandas! Then after Pandas it was Tigers, Elephants, and some broadleaf Mahogany. WE NEED these things! The Earth NEEDS these things! This is the “Caring” that has taken over. We humans are the main cause of all this destruction. Undeniable Truth. The question that I pose is: After we humans are all gone... Who Cares?
One evening, as the tribe slept, a cold humming filled the air. The big heavy Male grabbed at the two young females who clung around his legs and torso. He peered through the opening of the stone overhang into the darkness. Stirring, the old Female huffed her disproval at the awakening, kicked the few that curled up with her for warmth and lay her head down again. The Male, hearing no danger, lay his head back down amongst the warm fur-covered bodies that lay near him for protection and status. The tribe of pre-humans lay together in a mass of fur in a hollow dust-filled bowl under a sharp stone outcrop. They slept before the knowledge. They will not sleep without it ever again.
One of the youngsters awoke first. The morning dew clung to the outer fur of his arms and chest. Sitting up, he blinked his eyes open. He peers across the lump of entwined bodies through to the spreading light as it drew the outline of the cave-mouth. Something is wrong. The outline has changed. “whoa-ha, Whoa-Ha, WHOA-HA!” the youngster shouts as his excitement and warning grows. The big Male pushes his group away as he rolls up and ready. He blinks life into his eyes and looks to the youngster shouting the warning. The youngster looks past to the opening again. The big Male turns, instinctively getting up on his legs, knees bent... He sees. “Mmeh, mmeh-meh, Mmeh, mmeh-meh!” he grunts to the tribe and they stir, wake and get behind him. He cautiously steps forward, one step at a time grunting lowly as he went.
The change to the tribe is landed. Cold, dark – blacker than black, its sharp edges immeasurable to the micron, border the monolith. It stands upright, as a great Sarasin, but with a perfection that is unmatchable. Rectangular on all sides, forming the third dimension with an accuracy that nothing has witnessed. The monolith came to rest outside the entrance to the tribe’s sleeping cave, but was it by accident?
The big male dances closer, then retreats, but each time closer to this new “perfection” that has invaded the tribe’s space. His hand reaches out, grabs a stone, and has he has many times before throws it at this “perfection”, the monolith. The stone glances off with no damage – no motion – no reaction from the invader. Eventually the big Male, seeing the advances from his juniors and worried for his control, moves closer than his fear would normally permit. He reaches out, this time open-handed. He touches the smooth, black surface! Whooping his pride and authority, the Male taunts the monolith and the junior males. Then it hits him. The power, the Knowledge!
But here’s what I put to you. Did this happen to the Dinosaurs? Did one of them get the “God Touch”? Maybe the T-Rex was just about to start building cities to trade in Brontosaurus meat? Just as he started drawing up the plans, a huge meteor barrels through the atmosphere and makes the Yucatan. What if the Monolith was first touched by a wolf, rather than Human’s ancestor? Would we be bred as pets by them?
OK, this is how Arthur C. Clarke sort of explains it in his 2001: a space odyssey (retold by me). This is one method of the “rapture”. Whether it’s like this, or God breathing, or the way that our brain has evolved and changed, somehow we humans have gained the knowledge. This knowledge has allowed us to manipulate the Earth, to control its creatures, plants and resources. Why should we be able to do this and no other creature? Knowledge. Can we do these things without harming some other organism? Nope. Do I think we should worry? Nope. No matter How much we change our world, pollute it, rape its resources, kill its Pandas or “Melt all its polar Ice-caps”, The Earth will survive. If we kill ourselves off, the Earth won’t care. If we turn the Earth into Mars, it still won’t care. “Caring” is a Human emotion that only we Humans value.
So, in today’s “greening of the planet” should we truly be worried about our Earth? Nope. In this, we are being selfish. We are worrying about our futures, not the Earth’s. The Earth doesn’t need saving. Our habitability on this planet is what might need saving...maybe!