In the words of Teilhard de Chardin: ‘The Age of Nations is past. The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth.’
There are those who say it is foolishness to speak of unity among humans, to think of different races, nationalities and cultures working together cooperatively and living in peace. “Impossible! There has always been conflict and human nature doesn’t change.”
It is true that our nature is determined. Self-preservation is a fundamental instinct and there is a broad spectrum of emotions that we come into the world with.
— Yes, nature is determined . . . but our spirit evolves—
We are born and slowly we grow into consciousness. We see, learn, understand and thought emerges, then it complexifies throughout life; with that we build and create. Animals exist and survive by adapting to their environment; only the human animal with intelligence and reflective awareness has adapted the environment to fit his needs.
Glancing over the arc of time we see the human species awakening to thought, evolving from cave-man/animal existence to the marvelous creative/inventive being that changes the face of the earth. With our history and science books we can look back and see the slow improvement of human shelters from cave-dwellings to simple structures of sticks and grasses to more endurable structures of stone and wood . . . a continual advancement to finally creating the amazingly complex structures that now define our modern landscape . . . back again to see mankind meeting nourishment needs by moving from hunting and gathering to domesticating animals and planting crops, to finding ways to preserve food for future needs . . . of finding means to cross rivers and chasms, to building bridges. . . of devising vessels to move loads over land and sea then inventing mechanical devices to make work easier, then inventing more complex machines to go farther and faster, to finally lift him from earth and fly through the sky.
Millions of years ago the human animal shaped his grunts and sounds into words and developed languages to convey meaning, then invented coded markings to enable the permanentizing of those words and continued to find different ways to ‘send them forth’ covering distance and time; first writing, then printing press, telephones and telegraphs, computer, electronic devices . . . the world we occupy today is not the world to which the first human beings awoke. It has been transformed by the countless effort of the millions of individuals over eons of time who slowly added bit by bit to the store of knowledge and innovation that enables us today to do marvelous unthinkable thing that were not possible when humans first walked the earth.
Consider our world and realize that the pattern of choices made over time has shaped our present existence . . . these choices have been both marvelous and terrible—mostly they were made without awareness of the ‘whole picture’, but in the 1960’s when for the first time we left the confines of planet earth and looked back at our home we saw it was one whole self-sustaining unit, now we are called to understand what that means. Teilhard told us: ‘The task before us now, if we would not perish, is to build the earth’. To continue on the present course of wars, terrorism, and self-interest exploitation of earth’s resources is counter to a sustainable future.
Can human choice-making advance enough to leave self-interest behind and work for what will take eons (so never seeing efforts rewarded) to achieve the goal of building a sustainable earth? Impossible you say? Look how far we’ve come, we’ve already done the impossible if you consider where we started—we just have to do it again with conscious intent.