I’m going to say this here because I don’t know where else to say it.
I think we and our society are animated by our questions, but that is both our gift and curse.
We can invent the noblest loftiest questions that stretch the imagination just in the asking and whose mysteries we might plumb for centuries without resolving, or the most petty and hateful questions that limit our possibilities in their very framing and will sow discord until and unless they are rejected root and stalk.
If the goal were merely homeostasis, that would actually be easier than what we want. The problem is we want. We want and want and want. We don’t stop wanting. Wanting is instinctive, as natural as breathing. We say we hate change but we really mean we want changes that are good for us, and we don’t want changes that are not so good for us. We want our wants and we want our don’t-wants.
Never mind how something works, never content with just describing it not realizing we are it describing it to itself. We also then ask what if... What if I push a little bit in this direction, what if I add a little bit of this color, what if... Each tweak setting off a cascade of responses which in turn make us want more wants and want more don’t-wants. What if... Want! Don’t want! What if... Want! Don’t want! What if... Want! Don’t want! What if... Want! Don’t want!
What we really need though, is nothing short of a moral revolution. The crisis we are in as-is will not be solved by technology - that will only really just buy us some time because we are only really just asking the same questions that brought us to this point but wondering if the answers will look any different this time round. When have we not had the best of intentions? How has that turned out? That way is a dead end, seems to me at least.
Rather, we will be saved only by a fundamental intervention, almost as if this were the mid-life crisis of our species, where we accept we have hit rock bottom even if it is hard to see beneath all the seductive shininess of modernity, and we accept the humbling-humiliating journey of picking up the very pieces we smashed on our way to the bottom, the painful thankless decades-long work needed to re-learn not just to survive but also regenerate our living planet, with full mindful dutifulness, as if that were the only thing that mattered... Existing in other words becomes synonymous with caring for every inch of land and sea and air and all the beings within that we might still have any hopes of saving. And why, that doesn’t sound like a bad way to live... What more could one want?
To expect morality, to expect better of oneself and others, is a kind of optimism. To reject that we are at heart most selfish heartless mindless automatons but are capable of making decisions that go beyond instant gratification and on-demand convenience, to hell with the costs - that takes optimism. To willingly dedicate one’s life to a cause bigger than oneself, to put in the painstaking work it takes to create something of timeless value - that takes devotion. To stand up for those who have no voice even if their plight has no immediate effect on your own life - that takes courage. I *dare* you to hope with me.
Morality is merely optional in a universe ruled by statistical thermodynamics. Morality as the heart of being itself on the other hand, the being in human being as we use it in reference to ourselves and no other animal - for there are no dog beings or tiger beings or cow beings - that kind of morality only *seems* like a choice. The Buddha might say one answer will lead to endless eons of samsara and an inevitable return to the same fork in the road. The other answer signifies a sublime all-accepting whole-feeling every-knowing state where, to act without morality is but to wade in and create ever more ripples in the already roiling ocean of samsara, ensnaring oneself and all other beings anew in the entangledness of all things.
Yes, this crisis if we are to confront it with moral courage will teach us that what we really need, is really very little. And everything beyond that are merely the hurts we subject unto ourselves. Is that optimistic? Isn’t that optimistic?
All I want then is a little moral courage and a historic moral revolution. What if...