The cowboys and cowgirls of our era are no longer riding horses in the dust, where the long arm of the law doesn’t reach. They’re undertaking the ego trips of entire nations, riding spaceships, leaving a massive trail of debris in a galaxy untouched by humans not so long ago.
The European Space Agency reported in January 2019 that the estimated number of garbage currently floating in the orbit of our planet exceeds 128 million bits smaller than one centimeter, about 900,000 pieces of between 1–10 cm and around 34,000 of pieces larger than ten centimeters.
Our precious resources are wasted on taking sh*t into space, while we haven’t figured out how we can live in peace, harmony and abundance on this planet. (Which is actually possible). I heard that the latest “brilliant plan” is to take 3D-printers to the moon to try and create cities there for humans to live in. I beg your pardon?
Surely, your parents used to tell you to stay in your room until you’d tidied up, or else you weren’t allowed to go out and play? Surely, you are teaching your kids the same?
So, either our parenting is failing, or we abandon this principle as soon as we think we have “grown-up”. How can we allow our species to leave this earth while it’s dying, without cleaning up our mess first and without eliminating the cause of the problems we’re facing on the only habitable, precious, unique and ever giving planet?
In March 2019, the phrase ‘white supremacists’ was a much-used term in my adopted home country. It is understandable that a single event of shock and horror evokes a desire to explain and categorise. But our real disease is human supremacism, creating all kinds of subtle and more obvious violence towards other creatures, be it human animals or non-human animals.
The human is an overrated mammal, one that screams the loudest for its own survival and the one that makes the biggest mess on this earth. The one that has deemed itself intelligent. The one that takes excessively more than it needs. The one that asks the question: “Are other animals conscious?” The one that says, ‘I think, therefore I am’ instead of ‘I feel, therefore I am’. The one that has created a diagnosis of mental illness for people with severe depression yet treats greed as a completely normal quality of character. The human mammal has in fact normalised greed in a system called economic capitalism, which has now pervaded almost the entire world, regardless of countries’ creeds, religions or cultures. It has become the overriding principle of the human expression of life on earth. And space.
We do not seem to have the intelligence to recognise that, long before we came on the scene, everything was freely given. We seem compelled to take, to convert and to turn into money pretty much everything we can lay our hands on. And make a mess in the process. And not clean it up. Even if it means destroying other creatures’ habitats or depriving members of our own species of basic needs such as fresh water or land to grow their food on.
Perhaps it’s time to turn our human rights into human obligations. Such as the obligation to not harm others, be they human animal or non-human animal. The obligation to develop the little valued skill of feeling. All our problems can be traced back to our inability to understand the (human) system of emotion and our inability to tackle destructive emotion, in order to have peace with the fact that everything in this wondrous world is changing and finite, including ourselves.
I am sure that if we all learnt to feel (beyond our own narcissistic emotions and into the principles and wholeness of life itself, expressed through all creatures and phenomena), we would be able to collectively say: STOP. We would stop and first of all fulfil our obligation to finish all war (starting in ourselves and at home), to feed all mouths, to secure clean water and cure or deal with seemingly incurable diseases typical to the human species alone: private ownership, materialistic greed or the false belief that human intelligence is superior to the intelligence of nature. The obligation to clean up our mess before we can leave our room and party.
© Sitara Morgenster (first published in Black & White Oman Magazine, April 2019)