Monday, August 30, 2010

Why the World is Worth Saving

One of the things that peeves me the most, even more than the people who are convinced that the world is doomed to inevitably suffer apocalyptic calamity no matter what anyone does, are the people who think that this would be a good thing, the people who think that the world is a despicable cesspool that is not even worth the consideration of saving.

Now, a strong concern for the future of the world is very reasonable, healthy in fact. It means that you know that even the best plans or intentions can go horribly wrong, that things can blow up in your face when you least expect it, and that in the blink of an eye, you can find yourself cruising merrily along in a handbasket, on a direct course for hell. Being convinced that the world is not worth saving, however, is absolutely ridiculous.

First, the whole notion that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there's nothing anyone can do is flat out BS. As a whole, the world is a far, far better place than it was at any other point in history. Sure, there's still a lot of problems left in the world, and the up-trend hasn't been a constant straight line, month-to-month, year-to-year, and decade-to-decade things make it jiggle around, but the overall trend has been a sharp parabolic curve upwards in the last 3-500 years. We've got problems, some of them old some of them new, but the world has always had problems and challenges. It's not an easy place, this universe we live in. We've overcome so many, and made great strides in so many more, that to suggest that we could never possibly overcome the problems of today or tomorrow is ludicrous.

People who are convinced that the world isn't worth saving need to be smacked upside the head. With something very big and heavy. There is so much that humanity has done, so much that this glorious civilization has accomplished, all while bootstrapping itself up from less than the Stone Age, and so much that humanity might yet do that anyone who thinks that all of that should be wiped away is either utterly blind and deluded, or a sadistic sociopath.

Humanity has achieved so much. Humanity has created so much beautiful art and music and literature, of all types and all grades. From Mozart to this week's Top 40s Countdown. From the Mona Lisa to a preschooler's crayon scribbles. From Homer to Homer Simpson. These alone are of incalculable value, nevermind the sculpting of the world and the very stars themselves that humanity will produce and be capable of in the future. Great monuments on Mars. A sculpture the size of a small planetoid. The Mona Lisa recreated in perfect detail, in the molecules on the head of a pin.

Humanity is so depraved, people say, bent on war and destruction and sadism. Conflict is a part of nature, it was bred into humanity as a survival mechanism, and humans are hardly the only species to enjoy the pain of others. Nature is full of sadists and sociopaths. Yet they do not dominate, and they do not dominate humanity. Conflict and war has dominated much of human history, but that is merely an extension of natural instincts into a civilized world, and humanity has already taken tremendous strides in overcoming that. Genocide is universally regarded as a crime by all but the worst people in the worst corners of the world, when even only a few hundred years ago it could have been floated as an option without anyone blinking. Rape and child molestation and abuse are considered crimes the world over, with only the most backwards of places not recognizing them as wrong, and even then only under select circumstances. Basic human rights, and civil rights for all men and women have made vast strides in the last 300 years. They still have a long way to go, of course, but so much has already been achieved.

Humanity still has a long way to go, for sure; human civilization is still far from adulthood, but humanity has already made it through childhood, well into adolescence, and all on their own, bootstrapping themselves up without any parent or patron to help them or guide to direct their path. To say that humanity is not worth saving, not worthy of continued existence and growth, is like saying that a newborn child abandoned in the wilderness that not only raised itself all on its own, but produced the likes of Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor at age 9, is not worthy of continued existence.

Our great civilization of this world has accomplished so much, through so much hardship and strife, from literally nothing. It is absolutely incredible. If humanity accomplished nothing more, if our civilization were to end tomorrow, it would have been more than worth it all, and it would be the greatest tragedy of our entire civilization. For frak sake, we have put people on the moon! We have put self-guided robots on Mars! We have created music and poetry and art that moves the very soul. We regularly build today great, sky-scraping towers and other marvels of engineering that rival the Pyramids. Hell, humanity built the Pyramids. In its infancy. The vast wonders of the universe lay at humanity's fingertips, lay at our entire civilization's fingertips, and we have created and spawned so much, and we haven't even begin to scratch the surface of humanity's potential in the great, wide universe.

To say that none of it all is worth continuing, makes humanity worthy of existence, of survival, is insanity.

1 comment:

Picard578 said...

To qoute Doctor Malcolm from Jurassic Park: "We do not have power to save the world - or to destroy it. But we may have the power to save ourselves." But we should get rid of politicians, first...

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