Ten tumultous, turbulent millenia ago,
As the great, glistening, grinding, ice-sheets receded,
Warmth returned to the reborn Earth, animals and plants flourished,
Cascading rivers of newly melted waters began to flow ...
Human tribal hunter-gatherer populations spread swiftly-and multiplied,
Adapting to Nature's suddenly proffered fruitful bounteousness.
Although late Neolithic life remained an unending struggle for survival,
With each passing generation, a few more were born than died.
Inevitably, with accelerating, heart-rending rapidity,
The vast abundance of life-giving food-beasts
Which had recently thronged plain and hill, stream and valley,
Dwindled in numbers as though struck with loss of fecundity.
Lacking a virgin, unspoiled, unpopulated, game-filled new land,
Fear and famine stalked the underfed sons and daughters of the tribes,
Even as the climate pulsated unpredictably -
For the people, a crisis of survival was nigh at hand.
Manifesting the creative spark that would, potentially, someday carry
His, or her, descendants outward to fruitful new lands among the stars,
Some unremembered genius pondering amid the foothills of Asia Minor
Noticed all the edible plants - root, leaf, seed, or succulent berry;
When particular seed-grains were cross-pollinated, the resultant seed
Was much more appetizing, tasty, grindable, and nourishing -
A transportable food source - ready to plant, reap, store, and eat -
Concentrated energy allowing increasing - increasingly diverse, populations to feed.
Thus was Agriculture conceived into the fertile, glacier-ground soils of Earth,
With ever-speeding swiftness, the resultant, sedentary, villages grew and spread,
Accumulation of wealth led deterministically to institutionalized greed and to hierarchy:
Class, caste, and social stratification grew - unanticipated harvest of this fateful birth.
Even as the mud and straw villages developed inexorably into towns,
Shamans increased in power and wealth - becoming the first priests,
Earthly representatives (and beneficiaries) of the newborn, distant, immortal high gods,
Striding untouchably above the thronging masses - cloaked in the finest woven gowns.
Chiefs and war-leaders protected the temples of these gods,
Thus reciprocally reinforcing and legitimizing church and state,
As their temporal power waxed, they became mankind's first kings,
Their authority to command symbolized by golden staffs and rods.
Growing sporadically via war, trade, peasant toil, slavery, perspiration, and pain,
Arising from humanity's rapidly multiplying, newfound multitudinous proximity,
Came thus into being the first law, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, and politics,
From Catal H-y-k, civilization spread to the new cities of the Mesopotamian plain.
Eridu, Uruk, Ur of the Chaldees, and their sister cities of sun-baked mud-brick, towered,
Massive, walled, ziggurat-crowned, surrounded by waving fields of grain sprawling from
the banks of the broad Tigris and Euphrates - thought-impregnated shells within which
new understandings of politics, art, mathematics, and human responsibility flowered.
New civilizations arose-struggling ceaselessly to keep order against bubbling unrest,
Spilling chaotically from the banks of the Nile, Indus, and Yellow rivers,
Even while, unheralded, Abraham, a wandering shepherd, consumed with the concept
Of a single, Transcendent, All-Powerful, High God, migrated fatefully west.
Even as, fitfully-fraught with complex cycles of civilizational rise,
Complementing, collapse-punctuated, decay - following now-legendary Golden Ages,
Half-forgotten pasts were recalled dimly around flickering Dark Age watch fires,
Nuggets of captivating truths interspersed amid rotting mounds of fabrications and lies.
All the while-complexity of systemic structure grew ever deeper as it spread
Extending geographically ever further - its interaction channels ever more profuse,
As the Axis-Age flowered into the Classical Oikoumene - even as yet unsocialized,
Predatory, nomads of forest and steppe, through trade and war were led;
Into thought and wealth-producing intercourse with the waxing
Wall of Civilization, which came to stretch from Atlantic Britannia eastwards
Through Parthia, Kushan India, to far Cathay - and across the seas to Meso-America;
In time this Wall was multiply breached - Civilization knew another waning.
Nation rose against Nation - Empire clashed with and within Empire,
Barbarian tribes poured in as the cities fell in devastated, flaming, ruin;
Yet, in the context of the long run of History, there had been no course change,
The learning of the past was preserved - seed of ages as yet unborn - waiting to inspire.
The anciently laid foundations of the world system were now a fallow field
To be ploughed anew, again, with the rise of the Age of Faith
As cathedrals, temples, pagodas, and minarets soaringly towered,
While the Faithful fought to proselytize all lands - to sow, though never to yield.
This provided the intellectual compost for rational thought to push up a tender shoot,
Nurtured, initially, by the nourishing soil of learning from humanity's past,
Transmitted westward via Cathay, Hindustan, and Islam, while being transmuted-
Amid the dense interaction patterns of northern Italy, it took firm root.
Growing prolifically it spread precipitously and thunderously
Across late Medieval Europe - printed, easily reproducible Ideas smashed ancient
orders empowering new visions of reality born of this accumulating knowledge;
Even as the Continent's colonial empires mushroomed globally, to sit ponderously,
Upon the groaning, exploited, masses of Earth's far-flung lands;
Still, this was only a brief moment in the long course of History,
Within which, the outer technological along with the inner conceptual paradigms
Of Modernity came to be grasped, like a ravenous tiger, firmly, with both hands.
World Wars gave way to the EU; Empires yielded to the post-colonial age,
The atom was split, the moon boldly attained and trod upon,
Ever faster came the changes: rock and roll, Vatican-2, Tiananmen, and the Internet,
Still, nation rose against nation - throughout the Third World, wars continued to rage.
Yet, seldom, if ever, did we think about our sources of vital energy,
Of gushing oil, of natural gas, and coal too, there was aplenty,
Black Gold - seemingly limitless, and so cheap as to be practically free,
Irreplaceable, historically ephemeral, foundation of our newly globalized economy!
All the Ages of Man, thus far, are but fleeting, ephemeral developmental stages
In the growth of the civilizational plant germinated from that first seed,
Ten thousand years ago in the then verdant foothills of Asia Minor,
We stand now at the threshold of the culmination, of these long, tumultuous Ages.
Growth and integration accelerate global communication networks
Proliferate, seeking the remotest interstices of every societal nook and cranny,
Our increasing power inflects upwards ever more rapidly - approaching its asymptote:
Beware! For it's here, in the dawning twenty-first century, that our final serpent lurks!
For we ate from the Tree of Knowledge, from the Tree of Learning,
When the fruit of that first, ancient harvest we ravenously consumed,
From that instant onwards our civilization's historical trajectory was set,
For an existential civilizational crisis as we deplete oil needed to keep the wheels turning.
So, let's recall just where our civilization's trajectory is now in space and time -
Ten thousand years onwards from the sprouting of our civilization,
Racing to adapt to these multiplying and intensifying long-ago determined crises,
A life, a land, a civilization to redesign if we are to cross the sustainable finish line!
Empires of greed must yield to caring sharing societies based on need,
Wealth production must be understood to be a small part of a greater whole,
We must seek personal fulfillment as part of a greater, inclusive-of-all goal,
To sow civilization's ultimate flowering, we must now become the seed!
Viewed against the long run of History, it seems clear,
That a coherent, cohesive, complex-adaptive, global system is coming
Fitfully, and fatefully, into Being - even now it's coalescing
Tielhardian noosphere-like, learning via Crisis - to shape events, to aim, to steer,
Itself towards a dynamic equilibrium - with peace, and personal fulfillment for all,
One encompassing system, structured towards freedom from oppression without
Consequent repression, with fulfilling and healthy life for all - allowing us time to
Discover, to grow; for the seeds sown those ten millennia ago are at last rearing up tall.
Transcending Eternity through Tipplerianly re-weaving the very fabric of space-time,
Ultimately quickening the multitudinous; momentarily; sleeping Creators of History:
Simultaneously comprising autonomous nodes of conscious being
And cells within a much vaster Being - yielding a distinction ever so fine:
Between choice-fraught freedom, and structural predetermination,
With time for infinite computability within, among, and between, ourselves, and Ourself,
And the underlying, ever-frothing, ground of all Being-the quantum vacuum,
Endless Ages - ever growing from unknowingly born atomistic seed via unending Revelation!