I believe I’m at the very center of the universe. And there’s no argument that can convince me otherwise. Yet the prohibition against such thinking is so profoundly ingrained in our training that most people will deny it. And I’m not speaking of your willingness to deny that the universe revolves around me, but your willingness to deny that it revolves around you. We use the statement ” You’re not the center of the universe, you know” as a pejorative.
Yet it is blatantly true that all of reality, being perceived only from each individual’s point of view, perforce, revolves around him/her. That’s actually nothing more than a restatement of Rene Descartes’ famous observation. That we have managed to suppress that intuitive truth is one of mankind’s most profoundly powerful accomplishments.
Being able to view myself as standing on a small piece of land on a spinning sphere of immense size orbiting an ordinary star spiraling slowly through the Milky Way galaxy gives me valuable powers for predicting the forces of nature. No doubt about it. When one looks at those same motions holding himself as the center, unmoving, they are simply overwhelmingly complicated in relationship to one another. The ability to change perspective like that propelled us to become the most highly developed species on the planet.
Similarly, the ability to switch the focus from a universe whose central player was ones’ self to one in which humankind was the central player served our purposes in surprisingly powerful ways. Suppressing the individual perception of the universe as being centered on him/her in deference to the more powerful idea of a universe designed for human beings themselves is at the core of how we’ve justified subjecting every natural phenomenon we can exploit to the cause of serving our species. In doing so, not only Homo sapiens in general, but the individuals themselves, benefitted greatly. It elevated the good of the tribe above the good of the individual, and, by logical extension, the good of humanity above the good of any other living being.
But now, the time is ripe to take an analogous step in which we again change our perspective. The universe doesn’t revolve around humans any more than it did around George. Five hundred years after Copernicus first realized that recognizing Earth is not at the center of the universe was, by far, the better understanding of it, we still don’t incorporate its ultimate implication into our lives. We still behave as if that universe was created for us–not the individual “us,” but the collective. That’s the cornerstone of, at least, every modern western religion.
In view of what we now know about our place in the cosmos, the idea that it is, somehow, about us is totally absurd, whether it was originally, undeniably, functional or not. That’s an idea outdated by at least five hundred years, and one that now threatens the very survival of the Lifeforce itself on this planet.
Global warming, run away greenhouse effect, and ozone depletion aren’t problems whose boundaries are limited to effects on humans. And they are likely only the tip of an immense iceberg of our making. What’s more, the extent of their impact, should they run their full course, can’t be predicted.
If we wish the Lifeforce, of which we are merely a part, to flourish and triumph, or even to survive in the face of the potential of a runaway greenhouse effect ending at a Venus-like environment, for example, we must elevate it to that analogous place where its needs are seen as more important than mankind’s in precisely the same way as we currently recognize mankind’s as more important than any individual’s. By so doing perhaps we will benefit our own species in like manner as to how the rise of humanity has helped each individual human. But the potential loss of Gaia is clearly devastating to every species precisely as the extinction of humanity would do each and every one of us in.
The alternative, perceiving mankind as the most important–the only important, really–aspect of life on Earth, always subjects the good of the many to the good of the few. It’s like an individual holding his own life more valuable than that of the whole tribe. It’s a philosophy that makes no sense in the face of a real threat to the many. The universe is far better perceived as revolving around the Earth-based Lifeforce than around one single species. And within our human ability to see that, or our primal inability to recognize it, lies the success or failure of Gaia Herself.
Until we perceive “Us” as being the entirety of Gaia, as we currently see “us” as being the entirety of our species, we’ll serve the needs of humans, not the needs of Gaia. Recognizing the subservient place of a species to the Lifeforce itself seems, on the one hand, like an absolutely trivial observation, for without the one there is clearly none other.
But, on the other hand, it flies directly in the face of the deeply ingrained training that has brought our species to it’s position of dominance among the other species and is an incredibly difficult concept of which to dissuade people.
From the point of view of a logician, an amusing consequence is that anyone who denies the argument instantly becomes an illustrative example. But then, from my humble perspective, here at the center of the Universe, that’s not so surprising.