Someday it will come for our pale blue dot. The sun is scheduled to lose its fire in about four or five billion years, our lush green earth—or what’s left of it by that time—will grow cold forever.
But now it’s just warming up, perhaps in anticipation of its icy future demise. The ice caps are melting, the seas are boiling, and the human species is proliferating. Human life, at least by numbers, is flourishing: there are now about 7.5 billion of us, with more to come. Yet as we reproduce, the precious value of our lives declines. Wars are savagely fought in several hot spots, arms manufacturers rake in ever higher profits and the surreal threat of nuclear exchange—yes, who can really take this seriously, c’mon, nobody would be that stupid, would they?—glows ominously. The rights with which we are supposedly endowed, however unequally acknowledged depending on the political map, shrink: and they shrink everywhere.
I’m not against endings. There’s an end to a delicious cup of coffee, and end to an invigorating swim, and end to an affectionate touch or glance, and then, with luck, a lull before a rise again. Children, parents, rulers and roamers, rich and impoverished, all will meet a common destiny in the final falling of the arc of a breath. The way of all things which we should happily accept.
But how do we fall down?
Never have we had so much news, so much knowledge, so much ubiquitous awareness than in this age of uninterrupted connectivity. Conscience, concern and character have more to fill their forms than ever before. If youth is wasted on the young then is this wasteland of surveillance, of knowing all but doing nil, the final irony? Is there an in-between of fire and ice to make a human proud?
It starts and ends with each of us, however hard: not to impose, not to exploit the vulnerable, not to seek to add to the coffers of our dreams of greater stuff, despite the messages from every screen and phone that sell us visions of endless happiness if only we consume a little more and more and more . . .
Yes, that may be a start: what if we used our so-called social media to send a little jolt? What if we spread the word that several days from now, or several months, timed with an event, we’d all agree to leave our credit cards alone? That might send a ripple to the overlords, and ripples have a chance to make a wave, a wave we could delight in going out, with style.
Dr. Garcia is an American-born writer and physician who resides in New Zealand where there is also a lot of it too, though less than in some other places, he hopes.