“Seeing as we are the Universe manifested into self recognition we have the right to explore itself. Stop thinking of us as earthlings but rather, as how Carl Sagan put it, hydrogen given 15 billion years of evolution”
This was a comment posted on a facebook picture about the question of how to manage our space travels and interactions with alien lifeforms. This is amazing statement, and one that with adequate knowledge is not hard to recognize, but is seemingly impossible to grasp. We are exactly that; we are atoms trying to understand themselves. We are the universe trying to understand itself. That is a mind boggling realization and makes me soooo happy to acknowledge it.
I wrote in my last post about the concern that a cosmological perspective, realizing our purposelessness and overwhelming insignificance can be harmful. I am willing to admit that I had some difficulty handling such an enormous deviation from what nearly everyone told me my entire life. I’d be lying if I were to say that the transition from a fundamental belief that I mattered, that there was an infinite piece to me, that there was some importance to my existence, to a realization that none of these assumptions were true, was difficult and somewhat depressing. I wondered what the point is. Why should I continue to work and strive if I don’t matter, if I am just going to die?
Because living is awesome, that’s why! An altered sense of perspective should not have an impact on inspiration to live. Life is an observation, no matter what theology or logic you adopt. It is a beautiful one, too. This universal perspective should rather help manage the basic superficial earthly concerns as what they truly are. It keeps things in proportion, that’s all. I’m still capable of living exactly how I want to. Hell, I can enjoy looking good, I can enjoy some basic pleasures, and still find satisfaction in whooping some people in a race. But when my hair is raggedy, or I am violently ill, or I get whooped in a race, I can recognize those disappointments for what they really are. Maybe this is a double standard, but since I am in control of my perceptions, I can do that and no one can stop me from controlling them.
Oh my goodness, I’m so happy right now. This is awesome! I am the universe attempting to understand itself! I love the universe! I love myself! This may seem arrogant but I think it is ultimate humility. You see, I recognize that I am not an independent being. The jittery atoms of my body are only in the positions they are in because of all the collisions that preceded this moment. Those atomic positions, all molecular interactions, they are all me, all my thoughts, all my actions. I am aware of my surroundings not because I am independent mover. I have never won a race or aced an exam because of some independent being within me. I am simply a product of my environment. All thanks goes to all the movements preceding, including all the people who shaped my life. And while my friends, family, and parents may think, awww, that’s so sweet of him to displace the thanks to us, they would be mistaken as well. We are not independent beings. Pride is only an illusion. Everyone is a product of movements, as far back as we can trace it. Any incredible idea or invention is a product of movements, not the genius self-contained and limited to a single person or persons. It is an amazing collaboration! On a more basic level, we can acknowledge that the drive or work ethic I have adopted is only a result of my parents ingraining that within me from a young age. Thanks mom and dad! But where did that come from in them? Their parents or their relationships and their experiences most certainly. I know this is a myopic view and that of course we are products of all movements, not simply the human interactions.
This is an incredible realization. It makes hatred impossible. When we recognize that someone is as malevolent or greedy as they are because of the environment that preceded them, we can feel a sort of empathy. We realize that they are the victims too, that we all are victims in a sense and simply products in another sense. There is no evil, just results of prior movements. This is incredible!
We all judge and feel disgust with people at some point or another. We are only human, driven by an outdated biology. But with these realizations, it makes judgement less justifiable. When we look at someone who is lazy, unhappy, or someone who is wasting away satisfying addictions and selfish pleasures, we are more capable of seeing the prior environments which shaped them accordingly. And any sense of judgement or criticism for them can fall on the prior environment. Maybe we could even feel a sense of responsibility to reshape their environment or shape the future environment to support the ideals that we have, to prevent depression and allow for everyone to feel the same kind of happiness and awe that we are most certainly capable of.
We are all mortal and I hope that people can give me this same kind of forgiveness. I have hurt people, made fun, and caused distress in people’s lives. I hope that with my guilt and distress with causing these things that people can see that I am not malevolent. I know it looks like I am displacing the blame but while I accept it wholeheartedly, it needs to be acknowledged that faults are not in sole possession of those who bear them. They are products of the universe just as anyone else’s are. I hope with this kind of universal empathy, we can better understand that no one is evil. We are all just products, movements of atoms. This is incredible! I love this place! I once joked about the Ray Lewis victory speeches how he would thank God for everything good that ever happened to him. I wondered what I would say if I were to give one of those speeches. Maybe I’m just being facetious but I imagine I would have to thank the universe; I would have to thank every person who ever existed, 4.5 billion years of natural selection, 13.8 billion years of hydrogen atoms colliding and nucleosynthesis, an 11-dimensional multiverse. Not only am I not independent of these things, I am part of them. My thoughts and actions are not some independent being, shaped in a vacuum. In reality, I am in control of nothing. The only opportunity I get is a consciousness with which to observe it. And I’ll take it because it’s goddamn awesome!