Everything about the earth’s geological history and trend suggests the disconcerting and alienating thought that human beings were not intended to exist on it for a long time – speaking in terms of geological time. It seems we are a species, the conditions favourable for whose biological existence would, like a thin strip on the broad spectrum of earth time, be laboriously reached after billions of years of evolution, tenderly maintained for several millions of years (very short compared to the past and future age of the earth), and then gradually evolved away from again. The earth will then plunge further in its cycle into more advanced states of instability or stability, which ever way you want to view it, eventually drastically altering the delicate balance of elementary interplay that once sustained higher animal and, above all, human life upon its surface. Mother Earth, it seems, like all mothers, after bearing and rearing her children, will one day tire of them and expel them from her home.
Whereas the earth is over 4,600 million years old, the first hominids appeared just 4 to 6 million years ago, while human beings as we know them today came on the scene only about 200,000 years ago. It took 1,600 million years for the first cyanobacteria (capable of photosynthesis, thus producing oxygen) to evolve, and after that it took another almost 3,000 million years before humans arrived, and many dramatic things happened along the way. This reminds me of an analogy I once read somewhere: that if the age of the earth up until now were a ninety kilometre long motorway, humans only appear somewhere in the last few meters at the end of the final, the ninetieth, kilometre. Quite awe-inspiring to me. It however does not end there. It keeps moving forward. Discontinuing the influence of human technology, which largely – at least in the short term – seems to be putting more pressure on the earth, the natural geological changes in the earth and solar system will, within many thousands of millions of years in the future, yield an environment poor in exactly those elements and conditions that once called forth biological life. Quite simply, even if in the future the earth is spared every possible kind of accident and trauma that ever befell it in the past, which is highly unlikely, yet the earth will still eventually age. The sun too will dramatically change and become very unfriendly. It seems quite unlikely that the human race will not become extinct some day, at least on earth.
Some say this is where science fiction comes into this motion picture. According to them, science fiction of today is science fact of tomorrow. Man, the technological being, will become master over the laws of nature. Time travel will become possible. The quick traversing of large distances that normally would cover light-years will be achieved. New sources of energy, new methods of making use of energy, would have been developed. New planets colonised. A new super race of galactic humans would have been bioengineered. And all the rest of that flight of fancy. Well, it’s hard to dispute something that has not yet happened. But so far all we seem to do is put ourselves in danger and expose just how vulnerable the human species is. So, as an aside, let’s just hope the bees don’t go extinct. And yet this dogged belief in technology’s ability to secure us a future is understandable, because… what’s the alternative? – eventual Extinction someday?… Really? Extinction?… It’s a thought that’s just inacceptable to the human mind, that the human mind will one day be no more, disappeared with the human being. Because it just does not make any sense: What on earth was the rationale behind the brief physical existence of this species – Human? What was the point? To grow and to know, only in order to forget and to die? The entire species – without being able to pass all that knowledge on to… someone… anyone. Why?
Well, what about passing it on to, retaining and using it, ourselves – somewhere, somehow? What if Mother Earth is not really our mother? Only our surrogate mother? Our temporary womb.
This is the point, I must admit, at which some times my thoughts turn to that little elusive thing called Spirit. That thing of which they say that it originates in a place, in a state, in a consistency, that floats above every measurable concept of time and space, that existed before and will continue to exist after every earth has had its day. They say it, Spirit, coming from there, is eternal and that it alone is in truth the true human being. I have read that it incarnates and reincarnates time and again, seeking maturity. I have read, have heard, have even sensed, that it speaks the language of intuition and will always be incomprehensible to the intellect, and yet will always continue to silently argue with it. Because, if the earth is my mother, who is my father? I know I can’t prove anything to anybody, not even to myself, yet for sure the earth will meet its end one day, and yet there is in me something that will live on, somewhere, somehow, consciously. Eternally and forever. And I call it Conscious Knowing Joy.
– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.