A month or so ago, a friend of mine asked on Facebook – ‘how do you keep your faith in humanity?’. I’ve been rolling this question around in my head ever since then. I’ve thought about this question before then, too. And, the question I keep coming back to is “how do I see humanity at the meta level?”. Do I see humanity as a positive force or a negative one? My gut reaction is humanity is evil and should go the way of the dinosaur. Through our short sightedness and ideological wars, our societies make life on this giant blue/green spaceship difficult at best and unbearable at the worst for a vast major of humanity. We fight over our different views of deity, resources, and love to no end insight.
Through our actions, we have changed the landscape of the planet and in the process killed or maimed a large part of the ecosystem. A number of other lifeforms on the planet have decreased exponentially with the rise of Sapiens. With each passing decade, the damage gets worse, too. So what if we all just disappeared or at least had our numbers reduced by some pathogen. Planet Earth would just keep going and recover from the damage we have inflicted. Other animals have a chance to rebound and re-populate their native habitat. Predator species like coyotes and wolfs will do well with the millions of domesticated livestock we would leave behind, too.
The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone gives a good indication of how life could rebound if humanity blows itself up. Ungulates and predators populations have increased with the removal of humans from the area. The zone is also now 70 percent forested unlike before. Researchers don’t know much information about the overall health of the individual animals, but we know evolution is good at making sure the strong survive.
That is one view of my faith in humanity – we will destroy everything and everyone else would be better off if we disappeared. We are the source of much suffering. Maybe that is what being human is all about. Exploring suffering. We are good at hurting our lovers, families, friends, the people we don’t like or see as different, and even ourselves. But from this suffering, our greatest gifts shine through. I live in an area that has been severely damaged by wildfires recently. Our community saw firefighters and other first responders from around the west coast to come help defend lives and homes. Alternative medicine practitioners set up relief camps to tend first responders. The community response for donations of food, clothing and money lifts one’s heart and gives faith in our species. Even the smaller events of individual lives allows people to show their generosity like volunteering, donating blood, or even donating a kidney.
Out of suffering comes new political movements, art, music and musing of many writers. We make people laugh, feel loved and part of something bigger. We comfort those who are injured, provide a hug when needed, lend an ear, or feed someone who is hungry. Granted we can be selfish and push those away who need our help, but that is fear which is a type of suffering. We fear what reminds us of past hurts or what we can lose. Instead of helping a homeless person, some people are more likely to call the police and report a vagrant who needs to be removed. The homeless person can bring fear up for some people because they see themselves as possibly falling from their place in society. They know they are not far from being homeless. Even the very rich can fall from grace. A past boss of mine once said to me – “Having more means you can lose more” which is so true.
We are the ultimate vehicle to explore that it means to be alive – we bring so much to the table. It’s not easy rising above the fear and xenophobia that influences some of our scariest behavior. I believe our exploration of a greater force in the universe which comes by many names over the ages like Zeus, Parvati, Allah, Diana, etc is humanity’s way to explore the good in us. We attribute many human emotions and thought patterns to deities as a way to explore ourselves and give our cultures guidelines for moral behavior. But as with most human thought, perspective is everything. While some see religion has a spiritual connection to our natural world, other see it as a rigid system of rules to govern society by, which just leads to more suffering and the wheels turn for humanity again.
In our modern age, religion has fallen from grace as our way to explore human nature. While Marvel still tells the stories of gods and goddess fighting the good fight, these heroes and heroines stories are not seen by the general population to be a reflection of our stories or even their faults as ours. We have moved on to have political movements as our new moral code, which can be influenced by religion. Via different discussion and debates, we are brought back to humanity’s capacity to be a good force on the planet whether that is global treaties for climate change or talking about universal health care. If we keep our heads up and don’t let our fear get the upper hand, I have faith we can make this a better place not just for us, but for seven generations from now for humans and other beings alike.
Some days it’s hard to remember this, it’s so easy to swirl in the human cesspool that certain “news” sources harp on. But, love conquers hate and I just have to remember that to keep my faith.