Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fallacy of Human Nature: Part One

Imagine standing alone on the edge of the ocean at dawn, watching the sunrise over water that expands into what seems like forever, sparkling with a myriad of colors warm and cold. The sand beneath you, still cool, adjusts obligingly as you shift your weight unconsciously from one foot to the other, the gentle morning breeze carrying the salt smell of the seas to you. It feels as though you stand at the edge of a precipice, at the end of the world sailor’s once feared. The waves rise and fall, washing in and out, endlessly, as they have long before you were born and will long after our race is a memory on time.

To some, this image is beautiful, a powerful reminder that we are part of something perfect and balanced and immense. To others, to many, it triggers a deeply ingrained terror at the sudden realization of how small we truly are in comparison to the world, how alone we can feel when not bolstered by the swells of population. There is an old proverb that says we can truly measure the peace in our hearts by standing at the edge of something greater and being thankful for the reminder of our place in the world.

So what is our place in the world? As a species, we have done all we can to convince ourselves that we are the rulers of the world, the top of the food chain. Not only that, but we have taken on the mantle of lordship over all, subjugating what we can and attempting to destroy the rest. Our ancestors would find this idea laughable. A cog, after all, however integral to its function, does not solely drive the machine and, if removed, becomes useless and inert. Frightening as it may be, the machine can go on without us. Our spot at the top is not a permanent position for us any more so than it was for any species that came before.

We are, however, at the top now and we reap the benefits that are our due. The problem, of course, is that we seek to shirk the responsibilities that come along with the rewards. We call ourselves Kings because we are afraid to be what we truly are; Stewards, accountable for the well-being of the world over which we rule. We have lingered in our youth too long, delaying the inevitable to the point of self-destruction. It is time that we grow up.

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