The Last Bird
I was watching the miraculous beauty of a bird in flight today and I imagined it being the last of its kind. And a rather unusual idea, the idea that maybe we shouldn’t kill all life on Earth, popped into my head. Maybe we should get busy preserving all of it that we can. I mean, instead of being all negative Nellys and saying it’s already too late and there’s nothing we can do about it, maybe we could just really try. As I thought about it, I deemed it to be not that radical of an idea. Even though it was far from what I hear in the media and from the politicians and those who open their minds to be shaped by the media and politicians, it seemed a pretty solid bit of thinking.
Of course, I imagine the response I’d get from those far more pragmatic than myself would be “We have to kill all the birds if we want to sustain our economy. How would we be able to purchase drones if we did not sacrifice everything we hold sacred in order to keep our economy growing?” And yet I cannot help thinking one day we will realize that birds are way cooler than drones or anything else our economic system has to offer as substitutes.
The other argument is that a free market corporate capitalist economy is the only thing capable of saving the birds. As if the birds did not exist before corporate capitalism.
When I think of the ways we destroy the planet on which we live, and a hell of a lot of birds and bird habitats and living things in general, I also think of our tendency to blow things up in order to solve our disagreements with our fellow humans. I can’t help viewing this as a counterproductive and not very sophisticated way of solving interpersonal conflicts. But again, the prevailing wisdom dictates that we need to blow up half of the planet in order to teach the bad people a lesson. That only through asserting our dominance over others can we ever achieve a peaceful future for everyone. And that we need nuclear weapons in order to protect us from other countries that have nuclear weapons or might some day acquire nuclear weapons. Sometimes I question whether prevailing wisdom is not an oxymoron.
While prevailing wisdom makes no sense to me, I have to realize that it does make sense to others. Or at least I have to realize that other people are capable of accepting something that is inherently nonsensical. I can only conclude from this that humans are still operating from a narrative twenty thousand years out of date. One which worked given the conditions back then but does not fit current conditions. It’s like if stags, who had once fought for territory by locking horns, had evolved exploding antlers. Sometimes evolution leads us only so far in the right direction before the very thing that makes us successful kills us.
Sometimes we have to learn to skip tracks because the path we are on no longer leads us to where we need to go. Every species evolves, but not every species successfully adapts to its new environment. Evolution is slow, but adaptation is quite often a radical shift required for the survival of a species.
A new narrative must take the place of the one that has so successfully brought us to where we are now. Fortunately for us all, we do not need to make some radical leap into the unknown. Because this new narrative is not new but has been being slowly and assiduously assembled by many and for millennia. It is a narrative of coexistence rather than competition. A message spoken of by Buddha and in the Upanishads. A message spoken by many of the ancient and not so ancient world. A message I received through my Christian faith.
It’s a narrative that seems unthinkable to many, even though it has been thought of by people without cell phones or electricity or even indoor plumbing. It still appears unimaginable even to those who are forced to contemplate heating up our planet to the point of boiling off all the fish in the seas. It appears unthinkable to those who do not allow themselves to contemplate the very real possibility of nuclear war.
And yet we consider ourselves to be a thinking and imaginative species.
How did we come to the point where we lack the vision to see what is staring us right in the face, when in times past people were capable of seeing a need for a radical change in how we react to each other and to the outside world? How did we get locked into the very mindset that will inevitably lead us to our own demise? And what caused us to leave those virtues that best represented humanity in order to pursue the very basest of our desires, namely material possessions, googaws, and mindless entertainment? What brought us to the point where we now place greater value in the creations of human hands than nature’s creations?
I cannot help but think it is because we’ve allowed all our flaws and shortcomings to be played upon by the very worst of our species. We have been manipulated by them to see the world through their eyes. They feel they must dominate in order to survive and while such a philosophy can and has worked for a certain amount of time given the right conditions, it is absolutely the wrong narrative for the historical moment we are at. We must adapt to this moment or we will die. And we must adapt and evolve in the only way possible for a species, one individual at a time. This solution will appear impossible until you are able to find it in yourself. But once you experience it…
It might appear unthinkable, unimaginable, unworkable. But once you have crossed over, it will appear obvious. See you on the other side.