Sunday, July 04, 2004

Life, Extinction and Environmentalism: Save the Humans

Life is simply amazing. We find it two miles into solid rock in the form of microbes that digest rock for energy. Underneath miles of Arctic and Antarctic glaciers are lakes at below freezing temperatures. High salinity and pressure keep them liquid. They are alive too, filled with microorganisms. I have read about other microbes that apparently spend at least part of the life cycle blowing about the atmosphere at the edge of space. At the bottom of the ocean, near hydrothermal vents in the crust thermophilic bacteria and many larger organisms grow and live out their lives. In fact, at the microscopic level there is an abundance of life that lives in conditions that until recently were though hostile to all life.

The evidence that life can withstand extremes is not limited to the microscopic. The oceans, it appears, have many secrets yet to be revealed. The giant squid is not a myth, coelacanths are not extinct. On land, in Asia we have found animals believed to be extinct for tens of thousands of years.

It is funny because the environmentalists speak about saving the Earth. The Earth is fine. No, really, She is. She is the body of the Great Mother, the Goddess. She is doing great. Really, what the environmentalists have to worry about is not the Earth.

History shows that She has survived multiple assassination attempts.

What about life? Are the environmentalists going to save life on Earth? Goodness, no. Life on Earth would do just fine without the help of the environmentalist movement. We can let all the polluters, clear cutters, industrial dredge fishing operations, nuclear power plants, coal power plants, wars, agent orange, dioxin, etc., etc., so on and so forth do as they will. Life itself is not in danger. It will find a way. It has in the past, it will in future. Humans are simply not that powerful.

The environmentalist movement is not purposeless however. The real point to the environmentalist movement is simply this: Save the Humans.

It is human life that we endanger through our polluting, our urban sprawl, our petrochemical dependence. We will make this planet unfit for human habitation and run out of the energy resources that allow us to create an artificial environment in which we might live. Of course, along the way of doing that, we will outcompete almost all other large mammals and they will become extinct, we will annihilate the forests, we will eat the bounty of the oceans. But once we are gone, the Earth and life itself will recover.

Life has survived the previous five mass extinctions.

It did at the end of the Permian period, the time of the Great Extinction when 95% of all life on the planet was mysteriously annihilated. At the end of the Cretaceous, life hit the reset button and dinosaurs went from being kings of the planet to being what sportsmen hunt during duck season, if you will pardon an obscene oversimplification. Hell, even within the history of modern man, we have seen another species of human, Homo neanderthalensis, go extinct. In modern recorded history we have attempted to participate in our own annhilation via wars, genocide, weapons of mass destruction and the appointment of George W. Bush as president of the United States.

My one point here is that life will continue without us. While we are loved, unique children of the Goddess, I don’t see any indication that She loves us more than she loves, say, eagles. I don’t see any indication, nor do I get it in prayer and meditation that were we to put ourselves on the brink of extinction, that She would step in and save us. The Goddess is loving and kind, and is available to any who ask for her aid. But we do have free will, and She allows us to be hurtful and hateful to ourselves and everything around us if we so choose. That is the price of free will.

I am not convinced that we are the be all, end all of creation. Humans may not be the pinnacle of life.

There is also the question of the Otherworld, what happens after life. It is quite possible that while we consider our lives here to be so terribly important, the Goddess might not consider life here and now important at all. It might just be a learning place, from which we graduate to better things. I don’t know, but I have to wonder—if individual life itself is actually so important, why is it so easy to extinguish?

So what is the point then, to trying to keep the Earth clean? Why save an endangered species? What benefit comes from me helping my fellow man?

To me, doing these things listed above, trying to live in harmony with the Earth, trying to lessen my impact on the planet, trying to make life easier and better for my fellow man, all of these things are acts of reverence. Whether or not they make any difference at all in any way, I do not know, nor do I have to know. I know that I do these things and I am saying, Thank You, Great Mother, Thank You Mighty Creatress, for everything. I know that when I do something for the world around me or the people I meet, I am removing myself from being the center of it all and giving honor to Her.

Also, it feels right to do those things, however imperfectly. It feels right to recycle, it feels right to help a fellow alcoholic, it feels right to take the time to listen to the problems of my fellows. These things feel right at a level that is almost instinctive.

There is also the possibility that the real problem is that I cannot concieve of a Creatress so big and powerful that everything from a single bacterium to a whale is an individual and special thing in Her eyes. It is quite possible that the real problem is in the limits of my mind, not the powers of the Goddess who goes by many names.

Again, life is amazing. I want to make my life a part of a celebration of what is so wonderful, lovely and beautiful around me. I don’t want to participate in that which will destroy those magical things. I have a choice, to live my life as an environmentalist, as a part of the stream of life or as an antagonist, working against the stream of life.

I choose to be a part of, rather than apart from.

Good Morning Goddess Brigit, my name is Andy and I am an alcoholic. I have been kept sober since Imbolc 2001 by Your grace and Your grace alone. I would like to take this moment to thank you, my Higher Power, for my daily reprieve. Today is a good day to be sober.

Please, Great Mother, be with me today, all through the day and help me to stay sober all day long. Show me Your will for me and grant me the power to carry that out. Thy will, not mine be done. Inspire me to act and create in Your name. Be welcome in me and to me, body, heart, mind and soul.

Adjuva Briggita! Thank You! Blessed Be!