Discordant doom: Altruism and the end of the world

The end is nigh. Ok, I admit, I don’t have the foresight and the end may still be quite a ways off. The question is: when it all comes crashing down what will be the final nail in the coffin of humanity? We do have quite a few blunders to choose from. Unfortunately, we can’t even agree on what our greatest threat is. Not that I am hoping one day we all sit around a table, decide on a suitable demise and commit global seppuku; I am merely taking the scenic route to making a point.

Over the past century, humanity has added new and creative ways to threaten apocalypse on the world. No longer is the fiery-wrath of God our greatest fear, well, at least not for many of us; but, don’t worry all you religious folk, holy war and Armageddon are still way up on the list. Global warming, nuclear holocaust, biological attack, complete depletion of the Earth’s resources these are just a few of the other top contenders for our ultimate extinction level event. Perhaps later I can come up with some kind of odds system and open the End of the World bookie service. Hell, might as well capitalize before I am smoldering pile of ash, or a frozen block of ice, or whatever other painful demise I should expect to endure.

Ironically, we can’t even agree on what our greatest threat is. Instead, we argue, we war and we kill each other over who is right. The simple truth is no one is. All those perceived threats are merely symptoms of the real disease. Our infuriating efficiency to be a world of discordant children is baffling. Frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch politicians point fingers at who is polluting the world more and who should do more to save the planet we live on; It’s infuriating to watch as we kill each other over whose all-knowing, all-seeing and ever-compassionate diety is real; laughable that we put so much credence in a few imaginary lines on a map; and, it’s heart-wrenching to know people starve to death every day while food rots in other parts of the world.

From birth many of us are brainwashed with certain ideas — who to hate, how much money is enough, why our nations are better than others, why our gods are true and others are false; essentially we learn early on why our paradigms are the right ones. Some of us break those chains and as individuals are able to embrace other ideas and philosophies, but as separate collectives we are at the mercy of our leaders,  whom are empowered by those who embrace that programmed paradigm.  Whether we give that power freely through election or it is taken by force by ruthless dictators, the result is the same.

Like it or not we share the planet. In that vein our choices are either live together, or die together. We all share equal responsibility as stewards of the planet. We all have equal right to our spiritual, political and personal beliefs. The contradiction being: if your beliefs lead you to hate another for their race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, etc. to the point of war, murder or discrimination, you may wish to find a dark hole, crawl in with your nut-job friends and wait to devolve back to homo-erectus (don’t worry, you aren’t far off).

A revolution needs to happen on this planet, not one involving guns and bombs, but instead philosophy. Somehow we have skewed our belief in what it means to be better as a species. Our benchmarks (at least in western culture) are shinier hair, whiter teeth, faster cars and bigger homes. Pollution continues to spew from smokestacks and tailpipes as a direct result; we fear saving the world with cleaner energy sources will collapse our economy. Well, maybe our concept of economy is archaic anyway.

Money drives the world. Nothing happens without money; people don’t eat, medical research doesn’t advance; not even the green technologies the environmentalists fight for will be possible without money. Why money? Why not goats, shiny plastic beads or grandma’s homemade cookies? Cause that be ridiculous? But, exchanging shiny pieces of metal and coloured paper is perfectly acceptable? It is sad that we need monetary reward to drive us to make our world better, to make us as a species better. Or do we? Would everyone just sit back and enjoy their free food, free cable and allow the world to plunge into anarchy and attritional decay if they suddenly stopped being paid? Would the reward of working for a better world not be enough?

I know what you’re all thinking: Who will pick up the garbage? How do we punish those who don’t contribute? How do we decide how much everyone should get? Why don’t I get more for working harder than my fat-ass neighbour? The fact that we have to ask those questions is exactly the reason such an altruistic society is beyond our reach, at least for now (Yes, that is a bit of cop-out. I didn’t say I knew the answer; I only claim to know the problem. Maybe later I will blog what I think the answers are).

But, my bet is that without such a radical shift in our cultural paradigm, we will be pulling up a seat beside the dinosaurs at the museum.

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4 Responses to Discordant doom: Altruism and the end of the world

  1. Liz says:

    Robots will do all the grunt work initially. But once the ‘bots become smarter than humans, maybe not so much. We’ll be lucky if they don’t rise up kick our asses.

  2. MORPH says:

    Howdy! I stumbled on your blog while I was researching a few health and wellness related terms in Bing earlier today. Hung around a lttle bit to check things out and browse a number of your articles… nice stuff. I will make sure that I get around once again some time in the next month or two.

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