( Three minute read.)
One way humans gain self-esteem, importance, and significance, and hence assuage mortality concerns, is by raising themselves above other animals’ status.
We attribute fewer thoughts and emotions to animals and this is only true when people are primed to think about human-animal similarities – death.
All human beings begin life by being born – and all human beings die.
In these two ways, we are finite: our lives are not endless, but they begin and they come to an end. We thereby come into the world with a specific body, and in a given place, set of relationships and situation in society, culture, and history.
We share a common ancestor with Apes but unlike an animal that has instinct we begin life utterly dependent on the people who care for us physically and emotionally.
First and foremost, we are inheritors and receivers of culture and history. We may develop capacities to question, criticise and change what we have received, but this happens on the prior basis of reception.
So being born is a fundamental, not a trivial or accidental, feature of human life – and human existence overall has the shape it does because we are born.
However an animal is also conceived and born.
But, as far as I know, no species except mankind can think about thought itself, can reason, can form alliances and coordinate wars to destroy other thinking people, can create a global interdependent society, can allow millions to starve in third world countries (“We’ve got to think of our own economies…”), can pollute the environment to dangerous levels, and can mess with the very stuff of life itself in their search to challenge God.
What future lies ahead for humans in space?
We can manipulate the human genome as we like, we could manufacture a new set of beings designed for space travel but there will never be any humans colonizing any other plant.
If we can’t solve humanity’s problem on our home planet, we seem highly unlikely to be able to do so by establishing ourselves in space.
Any lunar or planetary colonists will bring the same human attributes that have caused problems on Earth.
Maybe if we got excited enough to treat Earth as though it were Mars, some of the energy currently pointed towards the stars could be repurposed to doing something even more audacious—ensure that the space station we already have can take us into the next millennium.
Wherever we land, we inevitably leave behind traces of our own forms of life.
We won’t survive here on this planet unless we learn to live in a resource neutral way. We are in the process of destroying this planet with nowhere to go.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.