I hope I didn’t sound too misanthropic in my blog a couple of days ago. I meant what I said yesterday – that I love human beings, at least as individuals, if not always en masse. I wouldn’t be trying so hard to save our skins if I didn’t care about our continued existence.
We really are amazing creatures. I think we often forget just how amazing we are. When you look at the best of human achievement – our artistic, scientific, physical, psychological, philosophical and spiritual achievements – no other species has, as far as we know, even come close. No matter whether you believe that human beings are just another animal, or whether you believe we were divinely gifted, there is no denying that we are pretty special.
Why were we made different? Was it just a quirk of evolution, or is there a reason, a destiny, a purpose for our big brains, opposing thumbs and unique sense of self-awareness?
And if we do have a destiny, if there is a purpose to human existence, what is it? And how come we don’t know? Or did we used to know, but have forgotten, like so much ancient wisdom?
In the film The Age of Stupid, Pete Postlethwaite delivers a killer question from his futuristic perspective, when he is the sole survivor of the species: Why didn’t humans do more to save themselves? Didn’t they believe they were worth saving?
On balance we are worth saving. At our worst, we’re greedy, arrogant, and small-minded. But at our best, we’re awesome. I do, of course, say this from rather a biased perspective, and our fellow inhabitants of Planet Earth may beg to differ, but so it goes.
Here’s my two cents (or two pennies) worth: If we collectively are going to believe we are worth saving, we have to start by believing it individually. And per Viktor Frankl, a key component is to find a sense of purpose. It gives meaning to human existence, and an incentive to ensure its continuation.
And, from personal experience, I would add that it feels good. It makes you happy. Happiness AND avoiding extinction – sounds like a winning combination to me.
I wrote this yesterday, when I had been on the sea anchor all day today. Can you tell?!
Today has been a much more productive day rowing-wise, although the wind isn’t quite doing what it is supposed to, according to the forecast. It evidently didn’t get the memo that says it is supposed to be coming from the southeast, not the south. For my purposes, it makes a surprisingly big difference.
I spoke to Mum today. She is managing okay with her broken leg, although frustrated at having to cancel her plans to go to the Lake District on Friday. People are looking after her well – when I called yesterday, Mum was with friends who had arrived bearing fish and chips and they were all tucking in. I can sense Mum’s impatience to get back to normal. So there’s something she and I have in common – both counting the days!
Vic and I recorded our podcast today, and it will probably be live by the time you read this. [Mum, please link]. He accused me of being a man-hater. Not true! I love men. And women. Oh dear, that probably didn’t come out right. I love humans, I mean. Does that sound better?!
Inky – great to hear from another Jamie Fraser devotee! Sounds like there would be quite a battle for him if he ever actually materialised in the 21st century. Ah, and you have a Maas Aero too – they loaned me one for training when I was living in the Columbia Gorge. Where is your friend’s houseboat (planeboat?)? It sounds really cool! I’m planning to be back in SF around October time, but I suppose you will be in Montana by then. Hope to catch up with you on a future Climate Ride!
Richard – a “Zero Packaging” grocery store? Sounds like a fantastic idea! Do people bring their own containers? But how do they sell wine and beer? A very important question!
Re comments on lower consumerism – of course it’s important to people’s mental health to have jobs. But maybe we need to rethink the way we structure our working lives. Fewer hours? Partly non-monetary compensation? More job-sharing? We created this whole economic structure, and if it’s not working so well any more, surely we’re smart enough to re-create it in a better format?
Martha – I’m sure our present-day kids, the decision-makers of the future, will have a few ideas along these lines. Thank you for your insightful comment, and for pointing people in the direction of helpful resources. I’ve been working on my “sentence” too, but am too shy to share!
Pippa – I have an inkling what KFC chickens go through, and it’s making me feel a bit queasy just thinking about it… Surely if more people were aware about it, KFC would either cease to exist, or would have to demand that its suppliers improve their processes. Awareness and information are just so important.
Anna – “social democracy” – you’re touching on one of my pet topics there. I haven’t come up with any answers yet, but am intrigued by the question of how to organize government so that citizens really feel engaged, like they can make a difference. My friend Romy is in Egypt right now, finding out more about what is happening there. I can’t wait to hear what she discovers! Romy lives in Wales, but I’ll have to try and find a way to get you two together sometime. And me, of course!
Thanks to Jay Gosuico for sending in today’s quote, one of my favourites: “All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
(Lawrence of Arabia)
Photo: I love humans. And mice. (At the premier of Morning Light in LA)
Sponsored Miles: Grateful to Curtis Zingg. Other miles not yet sponsored.