In 2014, Joan, my wife of 72 years, and I completed 95 journeys around the Sun, never finding answers to What, Where, When, Why, and How we happened to be trapped into this existence, thus mandating a 96th circuit during which we will try to be more diligent, but can we ever understand those massive, hidden-but-controlling energies that force all of us into rather pointless, short-lived journeys, never deviating from the same old route that takes 365 days to fly around the sun that takes 250 million years, even at 800,000 km/hr, to circle our Milky Way galaxy that has its own circle to navigate? In over 20 circuits since our galaxy formed we have yet to escape our spiral motion in the Orion arm. Yet in our First Class (Developed World) section few of us go outdoors into darkened night skies to admire the view. There is a super first class, occupied by only a few who exert a controlling influence over us yet most have not really earned the right. Most on board go steerage and they do see the view if not much else.
The stable period of our current solar system is good for a few more billion years, and for a few more centuries the major orbital, tilt, and precession cycles provide no threat. But, as our Hindu beliefs and modern physicists tell us, everything is recycled forever throughout Time whatever that is. I do know I need more of it.
Now this endless race of everything chasing around something else is quite invasive going all the way down from galaxies to atoms where electrons chase around nuclei. If you care to go deeper into quarks, quantum, waves, and particles, you can escape this rotation but you find motions that imply we are really just holographs, so why bother with this essay? That urge to finish what I start is bothersome and leads to an assessment of our ship and its passengers that include Homo sapiens, the only species, we believe, that can record, and learn from, History.
The design of our spaceship with scattered resources and frequent climate changes is quite adequate for modest and mobile populations but promotes competition as birthrates rise. With each cruise our ship gets more crowded with millions of species all of whom, our species has determined, have a common ancestor but evolved differently into the niches they stumbled into, or made for themselves. And, can you imagine the absurdity? Most of us evolved so that we must daily kill and eat relatives in order to survive? Also absurd is the fact that bacteria learned to provide essential services so that larger life forms host them. In individuals of the human species they make up 90% compared to 10% human cells. So, who is in the driver’s seat? Where does consciousness lie?
Competition created widespread opportunities for Greed to infect humans with a craving known as Much needs More. Amazing how a few of those infected have been able to control their many, more-docile, brethren. In pursuit of power humans have killed 4 billion humans in major wars and who knows how many more in minor disputes? Empires are born, thrive, and dissipate. Many factors contributed such as: the export of grain technologies from Anatolia some 10,000 years ago permitted the rise of Egypt and other Middle East empires. Later about 1600 AD the export of the potato from the South America Andes to poorly-fed Europe permitted the industrial revolution and the rise of European, and later American, empires. Rising populations provided workmen and cannon fodder.
Right now our species, that can probe the outer reaches of our galaxy and invent cell phones that can do everything except cook dinner, is dragging its feet on real problems like over population, military and economic persecution, and climate change mainly because those who have the power to change are too comfortable with current, if futureless, conditions. Nature has been the main culprit, but living things are also to blame. Some 3.5 million years ago those remarkable, microscopic, cyanobacteria, who can manufacture their own food, but export poisonous oxygen forced us to adapt to using it as an essential gas. Humans, likewise, with some 8 billion individuals and much more advanced and varied technologies, are saturating our fragile air and waters with poisons that dictate change too rapidly for us to evolve as simpler life forms did with Oxygen infusions.
Like you, I am fallible and do make wrong interpretations. Yet I can not agree when intelligent friends tell me I am bamboozled by scientists because climate change is natural with no impact from humans. In my limited experience I have been in vast areas of Europe devastated by humans and have flown over vast areas now eye sores with the clear cutting of forests, interwoven with the extraction of oil and mineral wealth. Also I have joined endless streams of motor vehicles spewing pollutants. Now my Arctic and Polar regions, in and over which I had devoted 5 years, are melting dramatically. When I add the fires, droughts, rising seas, and other weather catastrophes, I fear too many humans are bent on their own destruction. We have the ability to stop this. Will we?
So many humans, my age, knowing all this, just shrug their shoulders, sighing, “I am happy I am on the way out.” Me? I am just too damn stubborn, stupid, and much too young to give up so easily. Per Ardua ad Astra (Through Difficulties to the Stars), motto of the Royal Air Forces, remains with me.
So much to do, so little Time..
Ye Olde Scribe firstname.lastname@example.org
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