Sunday, September 8, 2013

Homeland Earth 2 - Citizens of the Earth

(for those navigating straight here… this is the fourth essay on a series dealing with The Predicament and Hope of Mankind)

In this second chapter of the book, Edgar Morin follows the development of Science as it discovers the origin and development of the Cosmos, the Earth, the biosphere and finally Us humans. Then he calls for a universal recognition of the anthropological unity of all human beings, whatever diverse their culture or development.

During several centuries, the Earth stood at the center of everything; then it became just one planet among many, with the sun at the center. But then the sun was discovered to be a star moving within a huge galaxy; and it was until 1923 that the Milky Way was recognized as just one of billions of galaxies, and not a large one by the way.

The universe, once considered static, was revealed as expanding from a mysterious origin at the Big Bang; further, the discovery of strange objects like Quasars, Pulsars, Supernovae and so on revealed a highly dynamic and violent universe “that patterns its action through a dialogue between order and disorder which, although natural enemies, are also accomplices.”. Our own galaxy stomachs nearby stars all the time; galaxies and suns collide with each other; stars explode while cooking and sending out all of the known chemical elements which millions of years afterwards condense to form planets, the biosphere, and then Us.

This Earth, this “cosmic spec of dust”, was subsequently studied by geologists and paleontologists, revealing an evolving being that started out among earthquakes and volcanic convulsions until after a billion of years from its birth, it began to engender, incredibly, life, out of the same chemical elements that came from supernova explosions far away into space. Life, “issued from a mix of chance and necessity, in proportions we cannot determine… emerged as an emanation and creation of the Earth”. These elements by evolution began to form molecules, these together bacteria, these together multi-cellular organisms: plants and animals and finally humans… the Earth formed the placenta of the biosphere, and the biosphere the placenta of humanity, says Morin.

An here we are, infinitesimal particles we, born from the Earth and the biosphere. Earth, itself an infinitesimal planet near the border of a medium galaxy among billions. It took the Universe about 9 billion years to produce the Earth; the Earth another billion years to produce Life; and Life 3.5 billion years to produce Us, very recent arrivals in this humongous history. And yet, we have a brain able to comprehend it all thanks to 14 billion years of physical, biological and cultural evolution. What a paradox!. the universe working for all this time to produce something able to understand it… Just for respect to this amount of work, should we not preserve Humanity?...

We humans have diversified into thousands of cultures, civilizations, empires, countries… and yet, however diverse, we can mate with each other; we recognize on television other human beings as being human, however different and far away from us. We share the capacity for laughter, crying, speaking, observing, admiring; there is myth, music and dance everywhere we look. It is much more what we share as human beings, than our differences.

We must reawaken our sense of dependency on the Cosmos, the Earth and biosphere we come from; as well as our unity with all other people on the Planet. We are stewards of the Planet, as Buckminster Fuller acknowledged in his 1968 book, “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth”. We happen to be citizens of particular countries, but must awaken to the fact that we are Citizens of the Earth.  

Next: the Earth in poli-crisis, with deep problems of the first and second order.

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