Copyright, 2022 by John Omaha All Rights Reserved
I read with appreciation an article by Steven Biggs “Is Humanity Destined to Self-destruct” in today’s (10/17/22) Counterpunch. Biggs accurately reports that climate change is a casual factor in humanity’s ongoing self-destruction. Climate change is a consequence, one consequence of human behavior. It would be more productive to investigate what are the human behaviors that result in our imminent self-destruction?
There are layers of consequences in understanding our impending self-immolation. Climate change is an upper level layer. Below climate change lies capitalism. As Biggs reports and Keith Caldwell analyzed, unchecked population growth is a contributing factor. Unchecked population growth is another consequence. Capitalism requires unchecked population growth. Pollution of the air, ground, and water is a consequence of capitalism. Fabian Scheidler discusses the origin and evolution of the capitalist system in his 2020 book “The End of the Megamachine.”
My search is for the primary causal factor. What is it about human beings that has resulted in the the consequences of overpopulation, capitalism, climate change, species extinction, and ultimately extinction of Homo sapiens? The cascade of adverse consequences appears to arise from our ability to split our identity into self and other. This split must have occurred millennia ago as we transitioned from clans and tribes to cities and city-states, from a hunter-gatherer existence to agriculture. Cooperation characterizes clans and tribes; competition characterizes cities and city states. The splitting invaded our relationship to the environment and humans lost their identity with the environment in which we live. Irrational fear of death arose from the split between our human identity and the environment in which we live.
All of the layers of consequences spring from the split in our consciousness. Capitalism is driven by greed, cruelty, self-absorption, murderousness, and possessiveness. Misogyny and racism are manifestations of the split. Christianity embodies the split as does Islam. Unfortunately, few authors and researchers investigate the splitting and its consequences. I attempted in my 2019 book “Requiem for a Dying World.” I believe that by now the momentum of the consequences is so great that self-destruction is inevitable. “Requiem” offers a practice of awareness and acceptance for living with and dying from the the final consequence.