Younger Daughter’s emergency call for special delivery of her forgotten softball jersey before the match with McGavock yesterday got me to the game with a few minutes to spare, so I ambled over to Parnassus
and picked up E.O. Wilson’s latest plea for sanity.
“Like it or not, and prepared or not, we are the mind and stewards of the living world. Our own ultimate future depends upon that understanding. We have come a very long way through the barbaric period in which we still live, and now I believe we’ve learned enough to adopt a transcendent moral precept concerning the rest of life. It is simple and easy to say: Do no further harm to the biosphere.”
That’s the hook I’ll use a week from today, on the eve of Earth Day, when I speak again to the Students for Environmental Action (in BAS S332 on our campus, if you’re there, at 6 pm).
I got a gracious note yesterday from the student who invited me last time I spoke to them, giving me too much credit for helping him get accepted by ten graduate programs. Good luck, William! Students like you are our greatest source of hope and optimism for the Earth.
I’ll also be looking for glimmers of hope, next week and next Fall in Environmental Ethics, from Naomi Klein, Tim Flannery, Bill McKibben, and Wilson. We have to hope he’s right, that we’ve learned to accept the responsibility of stewardship and follow that precept. The alternative is really unthinkable.
Hillsboro topped McGavock in a thrilling extra-inning walk-off, btw. Younger Daughter scored the first of the two runs they needed to win. Glad I took responsibility for that jersey.
Today in CoPhi I’m responsible for introducing Kierkegaard, Marx, Peirce, & James. They’re all defenders of faith in the future, in one form or another. Kierkegaard and James favored leaps over the chasm of uncertainty and short evidence for belief, Marx forecast a classless society, Peirce trusted the long run of inquiry to give us some truth. Particulars aside, this moment in our planet’s history is going to require our working faith in a sustainable future, as a condition of its possibility.
In Atheism today we read Bertrand Russell’s “A Free Man’s Worship,” where he says we must learn the world was not made for us. It remains to be seen if we’re “made” for it, up to the challenge of sustaining it as a hospitable human abode. Alpha Centauri beckons, but it wasn’t made for us either. Not yet.
In Bioethics, Atul Gawande will enumerate all the ways “things fall apart” for embodied agents like ourselves. We should have learned from our previous read, though, that while individual bodies are all-too-mortal, the collective body of humanity, the social body, can endure if enough of us will just “tend our garden.”
While in Parnassus, I spotted one of Ann Patchett’s stronger recommendations:
“Buy this book and read it immediately… It’s for all of us. Atul Gawande is the perfect guide for helping us think about how life ends. It’s not depressing. It’s essential.”
And of course it’s essential to think about how life continues, too. Happy Earth Week.
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