It's hard to know, since we're the only highly socialized species on the planet, e.g., symbolic language, vast institutions, fanatical religions, and social, interpersonal game rules to choke a horse (e.g., the babble of politics).
We also seem to be the only enormous species that is (in the terrestrial scheme of things) VERY RAPIDLY committing suicide. "Fouling our nest" is what we do best. It really is. There's nothing human beings do as relentlessly and comprehensively as foul our nest. Killing our host, would be another way to say it.
By now, this should be obvious to 3rd graders. We trash the atmosphere. We trash the oceans. We trash our food (we do everything but glow in the dark). We trash our rivers. We trash the high atmosphere (gigantic ozone holes). We have oil companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars to "pretend" that global warming is a fairy tale. God in heaven, by now even bacteria know global warming is real, but apparently EXXON brains are sub bacterial. Frightening, isn't it? They look human, but they are the high priests of Homo sapien ("sapien", what a laugh!) suicide. All those "X's" probably stand for death or crosses.
The tragedy is that we are preoccupied with EVERYTHING BUT dealing with species suicide. Politics is either totally meaningless or a form of national psychosis (or both). Institutional religion is mostly concerned with killing our neighbors in the name of God. That helps. Over the centuries, NOTHING has killed as many human beings (children included) as religion, so lots of notches on the religion hatchet. And they're still at it! Christians hate Muslims who hate Jews who hate Muslims who hate Christians. The Middle East is pure hateville. It never, never stops and it's ALWAYS "in the name of God". We're probably classified as the nut case planet by extraterrestrials. On the scale of one to ten of advanced life forms, we're probably a cosmic 1.2.
But the cutting edge of species suicide is not so much what we do to each other, but what we are doing (note: ARE DOING) to Mother Nature. Yep, back to fouling our nest and I mean REALLY fouling our nest. We are passing so many ecological points of no return that it's like watching a spinning slot machine.
So are we addressing this fatal one way street reality? No way. Now television, that's another matter. TV for you and me. Fun, fun, fun. Sitcom psychosis is the name of this game. Who cares about the ominous disappearing icebergs and rising oceans? Who cares about New Orleans level hurricanes? Well, we sure better get used to them and much, much worse in the very near future.
99% of what human beings should be thinking about and having life and death discourse about is our dying planet. No, we're not "capable" (thank God!) of bringing down the whole show with us, but we can sure as hell take a big, big bite of other life forms. That we can do and that we ARE doing. Too many species heart breakingly come to mind, such as elephants, polar bears, whales, and on and on and on. And these are just the "big" ones. And this isn't talking about the fossil fuel contamination of networks of such biological complexity that we can't begin to get our heads around them. And almost certainly never will because by the time we achieve that level of intelligence, we will very probably be extinct.
So, how else do we fiddle while Rome burns? Oh, lots and lots of ways. We've got lots of games. Indeed, our civilization is basically NOTHING BUT games -- except for our rare journeys into transcendence. Science at it best is right up there and so are exquisite blossoming art forms. Mysticism is what religion is forever trying to play catch up with (and never succeeds). So, yes we have our moments, but the billions of deadweight, deadhead human beings are almost certainly too much to compensate for. A few flashes of transcendence over an ocean of existential sludge.
The contemporary sludge of choice is politics. Even the candidates are "sludge-like". They have no grace. They have no brilliance. They have no radiant morality. They're just cartoon politicians. We've seen thousands of them before and they talk their cardboard talk and walk their cardboard walk and live in that l% of unreality that we should NOT be thinking about and having life and death discourse about. It's the Tower of Babble. It's always been the Tower of Babble. It always will be the Tower of Babble.
But, hell, it's a way to kill an evening . . . and planet.
Looked at one way, we don't deserve the "Mothering" and clouds of glory of the Earth. And you know what? We're almost certainly not going to keep them.
Sad, sad, infinitely sad.
W. Christopher Epler (Bill)