Wow, linked is a most HOPEFUL, HELPFUL, essay on our fate, titled We’re doomed. Now what? The concluding observations are a huge gift, if we will simply unwrap them to ponder our footsteps as a species. [Excerpt]:
The human ability to make meaning is so versatile, so powerful, that it can make almost any existence tolerable, even a life of unending suffering, so long as that life is woven into a bigger story that makes it meaningful. Humans have survived and thrived in some of the most inhospitable environments on Earth, from the deserts of Arabia to the ice fields of the Arctic, because of this ability to organize collective life around symbolic constellations of meaning: anirniit, capital, jihad. “If we have our own why in life,” Nietzsche wrote, “we shall get along with almost any how.” [ . . . ]
Most important, we need to give up defending and protecting our truth, our perspective, our Western values, and understand that truth is found not in one perspective but in their multiplication, not in one point of view but in the aggregate, not in opposition but in the whole. We need to learn to see not just with Western eyes but with Islamic eyes and Inuit eyes, not just with human eyes but with golden-cheeked warbler eyes, coho salmon eyes, and polar bear eyes, and not even just with eyes at all but with the wild, barely articulate being of clouds and seas and rocks and trees and stars. [ . . . ¶ ] We owe it to the generations whose futures we’ve burned and wasted to build a bridge, to be a bridge, to connect the diverse human traditions of meaning-making in our past to those survivors, children of the Anthropocene, who will build a new world among our ruins.
I think it has taken me so long to say anything about this is that, at this time of year, at this time in life, it’s not so easy to find a whole lot of meaning. The children are grown, there’s not a whole lot I can do to guide them any more, and, well, it’s winter, and my garden is dead. Except for the spinach. I believe spinach could come back after an ice age.
You see, most of the meaning in my life comes from my garden. Seeds are amazing little machines. They turn air and water and dirt into something I can eat. Of course I realize, from the seed’s standpoint, it’s only making more seeds. And a chicken is an egg’s way of making more eggs. And I am the seed’s way of making more fertilizer. The process has been hijacked and gone awry, and the seed doesn’t get my fertilizer. But the seed doesn’t know that.
Ron, several years ago Michael Pollan wrote a book titled Botany of Desire, which I enjoyed. If you haven’t yet read it, you might find it worth visiting. He has a similar view of seeds. Yes! Good design wants to persist and even improve, if possible.
I intend to pick up some Michael Pollan as soon as I finish that 6 volume biography of Lincoln by Carl Sandburg and my little segue into the Rise and Fall of the Whigs. What I find interesting there is that the Republicans, who rose from the ashes of the Whig party, are doing exactly what the Whigs were doing in the late 1840s and early 1850s. The issues have different names, of course, but the parts of the machine have the same function.