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2537. Can the drops of water in the ocean make a wave?
We are drops of water in the ocean. Can we make a wave?
We got here by coevolving with the planet. We got smart coping with climate changes like the little ice age. We grew upright and on two legs in order to outrun the gazelles on the open plain as we were finishing off all the nuts and fruits in the trees. In chapter 3 “on human nature”, I proposed that nature and history should be treated as integrated, inseparable. not separate. We are like all creatures needing to eat, to drink, to breathe, to poop and to reproduce. Death also is part of our shared condition and a major event in our lives creating culture. Thinking about what you really care about and want more of in your life leads to a reassessment of priorities, beliefs and appreciations. Thinking that we are a part of nature, not separate and above it, helps us imagine what a better life could be, given the new constraints and breakthroughs about what we are doing and the practices of doing it.
History is often written as the emergence of the good, often in the form of “civilization,” from chaos. The perspective we need now is to understand how the possible (not yet certain) death of the human species emerged instead, and what we can do about it. A simple picture - and there are many - is that over the centuries we got bigger.
Stone age on the ground to
Settlements in huts to
Empires with architecture to
Colonies with trade to
Oil regime: ships planes cities
population continuously increasing
Elites usually in charge
This was not the only possible path, but it is the path we are on. This path is arriving at a bad outcome. Did we ever have an alternative? At each stage other possibilities were explored and the results can be seen on other continents prior to colonialism. These alternatives and lost out because the societies that relied on power and war won out. We tend to see history as a linear process we can impose on the above list, but actually at every point alternatives are considered, experiments tried. and what we get is the triumph of the West because those who chose violence dominated those who chose more peaceful ways. Was there ever a time we could have said “No”? Are we so locked in that we cannot revisit crucial turning points?