“It’s all so… human,” he said.
“By that, small and insignificant, or arrogantly self-inflated?”
It’s all about us on this little world, billions of miles from anyone else. Anthropocentric, I think he said.
“Who cares?” he added, in response to the trivial stuff we, and everyone else occupies their minds with all the time, relationships, death, TV shows, opinions, movies, work.
But he’s right. Who cares? Who cares but us humans? We are alone in this galaxy, unless someone (or something) else pokes it’s extra terrestrial appendage up and joins the painfully small members of the intelligence club. No-one cares, but us, and for each other. And at that point you see the stupidity of nationalism, racism, sexism and any other ‘ism’ one can care to think about.
We’re so self-absorbed. Don’t we see how futile so many of our problems are? Every time I see the horizon dipping a little at each edge, or look into the night sky at space, I am reminded that we maintain a precarious existence on this ‘little outpost’, as Sagan would put it. Life is tenuously smeared over a tiny marble floating in an impossibly huge ocean. I can’t help that thinking that if more people looked up, they would be more grateful for their time here, the fact they are witnesses to this incredible spectacle.
And yet… here we are. We live in this maelstrom of self-perpetuated drama, and we must exist in this society.
Instinct Vs Consciousness: Instinct tells me to make babies (survival of the species), eat (nourishment), care about my country (protection of the species) and to socialize (spreading of the genes). Consciousness tells me look up, drink it all in, and continually reminds me how insignificant my life is compared with the mechanics and size of the universe.
So I must care about where I eat. I must ensure my relationships remain harmonious, for an easy life. And I’m expected to simultaneously accept that there is more to this universe that I can ever understand. As humans I can’t help but think that we’re wasting so much time and energy by futilely punching both too many walls, and too many people, instead of pursuing our greatest task, to understand the universe around us, and to seek out other travelers in the infinite dark. Is it possible that our destructive tantrums, as of a child lashing out around him when he doesn’t receive attention, are simply the symptoms of loneliness?
A little less serious, I mused that our myriad pathetic concerns would be of great amusement to another species:
(Aliens come and land down on earth, join us at a dinner party, after all the hullabaloo has died down)
Alien: ‘So…. you guys have been sapien for how long?’
Human: ‘About three million years.’
Alien: ‘Wow… that’s great. You survived the great revolutions, language, agricultural, industrial, technological. That’s good.’
Alien: ‘No problem. So what are you doing with yourselves these days?’
Human: ‘Oh, you know. This and that. This new talk show just came out on cable. You seen it?’
Alien: ‘No… (coughs) must’ve missed that. Look, we’d be happy to show you more about those fusion accelerators I was telling you about…’
Human: ‘Yeah… hey, do you guys have YouTube in space?’
Alien (clearly uncomfortable): ‘No, what’s that?’
Human: ‘Well, it’s totally cool. You get to watch other people talk about crap and-‘
Alien: ‘This is facinating, really, but I have to be back at Cassiopeia by four, and you know how particle engines can be… ha….’
Human: ‘What’s a particle engine?’
Alien: ‘You guys don’t have those? Weird, it only took the guys over at MG704a about a thousand years to figure that one out… you guys really are stup-, er…’
Alien: ‘Oh, nothing. Listen, anyhooo… we’ll be back in about, oh, a millenia or so, see how you’re doing… we should totally get together again. Good luck with the quantum thing… iiiit’s a melon scratcher….’
See? We’d be like the dumb cousin at a family engagement. You want to get away, but at the same time you’re really curious how they remember to breathe.