Alarm call

Posted on August 1st, 2007 by george.
Categories: death, enlightenment, epiphany, future, history, life, society, space, synthesis.

Ok stop. Get up, go look in a mirror, fix your own face in your mind, and then come back to this.

I mean it, get up. Go!

Are you back? Good. Got it in your mind? Your identity? That face that you associate with your self? Now think: what did you see? Is that you? No. That’s just the face that’s attached to the body that carries you around, when you let it. What about when you close your eyes? Or when you daydream? Or when you sleep? Where are you? Who are you? What are you? If you’re not your body, then what? A consciousness? An awareness? You are so much more than just your brain, just your synapses firing. They may do the job, but something transcends them. They may be the engine, but you are the driver. Now. As the caterpillar says. WHO ARE YOU?

You’re a human, right?

Well, what is that? It’s certainly much more than a simple primate. You’re not just a hairless monkey running around the savannah. You are sentience. You are awareness. You are consciousness. You have the ability to look in the mirror and see something. You have the unique gift to be able to look up to the heavens, recognize and appreciate the universe, something infintely larger than and beyond you. But you’re even more than that. This may sound presumptuous, but perhaps your definition of yourself is too small.

What do you propose we do when we first contact another civilization? Start all over again with this us vs. them crap? I propose something greater. Let’s take to heart the lesson that Pluto has taught us. Our definitions are like rails upon which our trains of thought run. We often lay them before we’ve truly explored the wilderness to which they lead. We got ourselves into trouble with our quaint little ideas about what a planet is. We take a cursory look around, take note of what we see, then clap the dust off our hands and say, “Welp. That must be it. Nine planets.” Then along comes Planet X. And large asteroids. And Kuiper Belt objects. And extrasolar planets. And suddenly we’re confronted with a conundrum. “Um, exactly what is a planet?”

We could have seen it coming. I mean, all it takes is a little hindsight to focus your foresight. History repeats itself.  And these are just rocks. Imagine how serious it’s going to be when we meet Quo, the first Zorplag from planet Kozmotrad. You think people got upset over Pluto? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

So here it is, people. Here’s your chance. Decide, right here and now, what it means to be human. And don’t make your definition too narrow. I don’t want you to leave out an entire civilization just because you overlooked exoskeletons. In fact, don’t make the definition too concrete. Because we are definitely going to be surprised. So put a little leeway in there. And be ready, like any good scientist, to revise your theories.

Stumped? Ok, I’ll start. I propose that we decide that the word “human” encompasses more than primate-based sentience on planet Earth. It’s going to be so much easier to interact with other lifeforms if we include them in our paradigm, rather than marginalize them before we even meet them. You only have to look back upon our own history to see all the evil perpetrated against your brothers and sisters because someone decided they were “less than human.”

So do it now. Here, I’ll help you: I declare that to be human simply means you enjoy self-awareness. There, see? Easy peasy. Remember Isaac Asimov (or for those of you with shorter memories, Robin Williams)? Bicentennial Man? Congratulations. You have just welcomed AI into the family. Now don’t be scared. He’s not Frankenstein’s monster. There is a fundamental order to the universe. Anyone who acts in a purely selfish manner can only hope to bring ruin upon them and those around them. Say robots rise up against us, God forbid. And we’re all exterminated. Fine. At least we birthed a higher consciousness. But trust me, that’s not going to happen. I mean, we still respect animals, right? RIGHT?

But back to the aliens. Or, ahem, excuse me: humans. Like us. Just from a different place. And who look really different, if they “look” at all. Do you think for one moment that they will reach a level of civilization that allows us to share information without working together? How can you possibly worry that they will only come here to destroy us? What motive would they have? Oh, wait. You mean…you’re thinking about the Europeans who settled the Americas? Huh. Well, perhaps you have a point.

But I’m optimistic. A civilization that is too violent or war-hungry (in other words, a civilization that is self-destructive, a civilization that is too blind to see that killing a single one of its cells is detrimental to the entire body) won’t last long enough to make first contact. They won’t be around to enjoy that boundless and limitless joy of knowing that ZOMG we are not alone! The only reason anyone gets anywhere is because of all the others who helped them along. I’m sorry, but all those things that you enjoy, including access to the internet that allows you to read this? You didn’t and can’t and don’t own it. You didn’t pay for it. I don’t care if you’re the head of the household like me and BY GOD you pay your bills! That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about if you were the only person on this planet there would be no internet. Hell, there would be no language. In fact, you’d be dead. That’s right, you wouldn’t have survived more than about three days outside whatever fictional or cybernetic or hypothetical womb from which you issued forth.

Here’s something you MUST recognize about the fundamental nature of the universe: the only method for advancement is cooperation. That applies on a cellular level, and it applies on every level up to, including and beyond the Galactic Federation. You are only as educated as the lessons learned by every teacher and student and scientist who went before you. EVERYTHING that you enjoy, everything that sustains your life, everything that allows you to look into that mirror: you owe it to someone else. You did not earn it. I don’t care if you’ve worked hard, but good for you if you have. I want you to understand: you have been given a priceless gift to be breathing right now. You are the sum of the hopes and dreams of every struggling soul who has died and left their legacy to you.

Go. Look in that mirror again, I’ll wait.

What did you see this time? Did you see the innumerable eyes of every human throughout all time looking back at you? Did you see with the eyes of Adam? Can you see with the eyes of Quo? Because that’s who you’re responsible to. Those humans of the past, those humans of the future? That’s who you are. THAT’S YOU. And they’re all counting on you to do your part. It may seem small, but everything you do ripples across the fabric of spacetime to the very ends of the universe.

Now. What are you going to do today? How are you going to apply your unique skills and talents to do the best thing you could possibly do? What is that thing, you ask? It’s called advancing civilization. And how do you do it? By helping others. It’s simple, really. Even a Zorplag can understand it.

7 comments.

Lacey

Comment on August 2nd, 2007.

I’m exhausted from all that running back and forth to the mirror.

In all seriousness, you hit a home run with the last paragraph, but also I love what you said about the necessity of cooperation–right down to the cellular level. Thanks for this, dear brother.

Lacey

Comment on August 2nd, 2007.

Okay one more thing: nice Bjork title for your post. That’s one of my favorite songs of hers.

atoosa

Comment on August 2nd, 2007.

I love coming here to toastforbrekkie.com and getting my little dose of logic, humor, truth and love every few days. Keep opening minds and hearts, G. Way to use your own priceless gift.

Rants, Raves, and Rhetoric v4 » links for 2007-08-03

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Steve

Comment on August 5th, 2007.

Dammit, George.

I’m not going to tell you this again.

AL GORE invented the interwebs! Fix it.

Your blog, yeah, ok, it had a lot of words and stuff in it. Bla bla bla. But the premise is wrong unless you correct that first! I have to LIVE in Tennessee, and I can’t do so in good conscience with you blaspheming the InterNets and Al Gore.

OK, got that off my chest. I feel better now. (Where’s my sweet tea?)

So, the blog….. Dude.

Holy Jesus, who went on an inter-galactic Existential Darwinian-Einstein-ian time/worm-hole-ian acid trip?

[patent pending]

Cool blog.

And you are so right. I was thinking about something similar yesterday (among my other zillion weird brain things) about how humans would be perceived in the universe if seen through the eyeglass of our images being sent out. The Voyager project, if an alien culture found that, and decoded it, and really used it to learn about us as humans. Would they really learn about us? I don’t think so. And how would we learn about them? Would we even be able to conceptualize them in the first place, or to have a context in which to create dialogue or communication?

Very interesting stuff.

Good blog.

Vgr

Heather

Comment on August 8th, 2007.

Anna read this post to me when I still wasn’t feeling so great and I just had to come back to say thank you for writing it! It was a delightfully entertaining read for both of us. :-)

maysoon

Comment on August 9th, 2007.

Responsibilities, that word, wow that word made a quiver run down my spine! That was an intense post my dear awesome friend.

Lately all I have been feeling is responsibility, responsibility toward the people around me. Yes doing the right thing should be all that you can do or should do, but what is the best thing. The best thing for me is to do A. but the best thing for you is for me to do B. Can I do A with out having you think I am a horrible person for thinking about myself first? I never used to think about myself first but now, I think I should because I become lost in the long run.

Yes I just *&% all over your blog hahaha

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