The extinction that killed the dinosaurs 65 million year ago was only the latest and one of the milder ones. The Horseshoe Crab has survived all five extinctions, having lived at least 65 million years before the first extinction 375 million years ago.
It is apparent that we are in the sixth mass extinction today. It is normal for 5-10 species to go extinct every year. We now have about 100 species going extinct every day! The question is: are humans going to be one of the survivors this time?
Biologists credit the longevity of the Horseshoe Crab to its efficient immune system. What qualities do we have that may give us a survival advantage? We are adaptable: we’ve adapted to all climates and conditions on the earth, and perhaps we can adapt to the extreme climate changes that might be in store. We also can speculate about the future through an analysis of the past, as I am doing here. Of course, that ability is of no value unless we act on it.
That ability to see ahead gives us the advantage of not only being able to prepare for the future, but to alter it for the best possible outcome. Again, if we don’t act on the knowledge that we have, it is as if we didn’t have the ability at all.
All of which brings us to the predicament/opportunity we find ourselves in now. We appear to be driving the mass extinction as our population has grown immensely and is now using the Earth’s resources at the expense of other species. However that is only the beginning of our deviltry. We have also polluted the planet with exotic materials we have invented and have furthered the destruction by fighting amongst ourselves for what remains.
Besides climate change and the prospect of extinction, we have more refugees adrift in the world than ever before and the likelihood of more. We have powerful and wealthy minorities who are postponing needed changes that might jeopardize their wealth and power. Closer to home, we have wealth inequality that makes basic needs like housing and healthcare unaffordable for literally half of us. Meanwhile, we have a distracted and struggling majority that does not have the time or energy to address the situation.
The good news is that we have the solutions for most of our problems. Between our emerging awareness of how to work within the ecology of the planet and a technological revolution that can minimize our impact while providing for our needs, we have the means to see our way through and perhaps forestall the extinction.
The problem is that the power struggle amongst ourselves is preventing us from addressing those problems and, instead, is leading us towards fascism in a world that we no longer recognize.
Our evolution toward real democracy has been subverted by powerful interests. Our leaders are not accountable to us. Our ability to vote is under attack and our choices are ever more limited. Our attention is distracted by games, scandal, and spectacle. We are intentionally turned against each other so we can’t take advantage of our strength of numbers. Money is the gateway to office and to power, and the small minority that wants to coopt the promise of the future has all the money.
I have been working with some others for some months now to address this situation. We have been attempting to find a way that we here on Vashon can overcome the divisions and create a process through which we can begin to heal our democracy and get it back on track to be of, by, and for the people. We call our project Unifying for Democracy. We want to bring people together, to find common ground, to reestablish trust in each other, and define action steps we can take now to create a government that is truly accountable to all regardless of wealth or background. The paradigm that got us into this predicament is not the paradigm that will get us out of it.
Let’s talk! We have an event planned for Sunday, May 6, 1:30 – 3:30 at the Presbyterian Church. Craig Beles will facilitate. We will gather around tables to discuss our common ground and aspirations so we can communicate those to candidates, and to decide on action steps that we think will get us on track to elect leaders accountable to us in 2018. We will be there to discuss our common ground, not our disagreements. If you like this process and want to continue with it, we can arrange further opportunities to sit down and discuss our mutual future.
We will have a second meeting on Saturday, May 19, with some who work in the political sphere to get their advice on how we can interface effectively. More on that next time.
Democracy is not a spectator sport, especially now when there is so much at stake. Hope to hear your thoughts on May 6!