Stephen Jay Gould
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The View Between Heaven and Earth
Stephen Jay Gould
Watching the cable news networks in this country has become problematic for me. Not only have they largely become one-sided affairs with most discussions involving only supporting members of a particular issue but for the longest time the American news media have taken a jaundice view on global events with the United States the ultimate center of everything in the world.
Everything is viewed in the context of how it affects this country whether it is a natural disaster killing thousands overseas or another country’s government telling the United States they will not go along with whatever foolish, and possibly illegal military adventure that strikes our fancy at the time. Despite this egotistical attitude the truth of the matter is that very little of what Americans worry, argue, and fight about will be remembered a couple of hundred years from now.
This refined American idea of superiority has been around for a long time and partners nicely with the general human arrogance that we naked primates are the center of the universe. While religion lost the war putting Earth at the center of creation long ago, individually that is still how most view their existence. For the affluent our lives have become a neatly contained universe all themselves even if our daily struggle is nothing more dangerous than dealing with the demands of living in a Western consumerist society. A far cry from the small child in Africa wondering where his or her next meal or drink of water will come from or a Mexican father caught in the middle of a drug war and fearing what might happen to his family.
At best our concerns bleed over to our families and maybe a few close friends because for most of our species time on the planet small groups were all we could manage.Tribalism, in various forms, is something we understand and will fall back on instinctively when things start to go bad. Realistically, its not pretty but it is basic human nature encoded into our very DNA since the number one survival trait is to pass on our genes to the next generation. The ultimate struggle we face as an intelligent species will be the need to overcome our primitive instincts and fears and realize that cooperation and inclusion enhances the chances of survival of everyone.
It is my hope and the subject of my weak prayers that similar forces that made us choose civilization over continuing with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle will make us look beyond our narrow and tired concerns. Excuse my semi-intelligent rant but every now and them something comes along that, at least to me, gives a real hint at the true scope of existence. Special thanks to Nance over at “Mature Landscaping” for bringing my attention to this remarkable video.