Saturday, December 3, 2022



As always, I am open to pleasant surprises; but I am under no illusion that they will be just that: surprises.

The last few years have been rough for much of the world. My instinct to hunker down and try to weather the storm of disease, social unrest, and environmental disaster, while using my particular skills to search for ways to extricate us all from the worst of it, appears to have been a good one. This, despite the fact that the “storm” is most likely to intensify and overwhelm even the most careful and fortified among us. There is no safe place to go; and luck is not on our side.

I have avoided the worst consequences so far, but symptoms of advanced age remind me that even in the best circumstances my time would be about as limited. Doubting myself more than I doubt others has been forced into reverse, so that now I see that window of time being pushed closed by people I expected to be at least as responsible and caring as I think I am. I find myself doubting what until now I never imagined doubting: that humanity has what it takes to survive, and that we are even worthy of it.

Awareness borne of experience and indulgence of curiosity has revealed the scope of threats to longevity and the networks of causes that have both created and amplified them. That awareness, which I once perceived as a valuable tool for collaboration toward workable and working solutions, has become a source of physically painful stress, triggering a fight-or-flight response that cannot be acted upon, while the third option of living with the threats is intolerable due to their nature - and mine.

There are patterns in history that reveal what appear to be fundamental aspects of human nature. Chief among them is that we, like other creatures, seek to procreate and dominate the environments we occupy. What saved us until recently was the existence of predators and limited resources that kept us from succeeding beyond what the rest of life could tolerate. 

Invention of technologies that could harness the forces of nature, coupled with our willingness to use them to meet our ultimate goals, enabled us to attain what no other species could: global dominance. Unfortunately, wisdom and empathy weren’t up to the task of keeping us from destroying those on which we depended for survival. Those qualities were overwhelmed by an illogical yet basic belief in our innate superiority over those we inaccurately perceived as not being like us, or as part of us, or as valuable as us. And now, they are dying; and because we are also part of them, so are we.

My doubts aside, future experience will determine what is accurate and who is accountable for whatever fate awaits us. Perhaps foolishly, I refuse to give up on the possibility that something good is ahead of us, rather than locked into unreachable pockets of the past.