27 July 2017

The Meaning of Life, Part 4: No Gods, No Masters

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, we learn from a computer named Deep Thought that the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is “42”.  In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, we learn that the Ultimate Question that produces that Answer is “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”.  For those of you saying, “Hey, wait a minute,” and getting out your calculators, that is actually a correct equation in base13 mathematics.  Which could mean that we are a base10 race on a base10 planet in a base13 universe.

The word race as biological term applied to all lifeforms comes from the 19th century, where it was used for what is now usually called a subspecies.  That is the sense in which I am about to use it now.

The Homo sapiens sapiens race began flourishing just 35 thousand years ago.  Out of the four known races (sapiens, neanderthalensis, denisova, idaltu) of the 200 thousand years old Homo sapiens species, it is the only one remaining.  There have been six other known species (habilis, naledi, ergaster, erectus, heidelbergensis, floresiensis) of the 2.8 million year old genus Homo, each of which has only one race identified in it, except for Homo erectus, of which nine races have been identified. 

Of these eighteen races of Homo, or Human, known to have walked the Earth in the past 2.8 million years, only ours remains.  So, when Edward James Olmos as his alter-ego Admiral Bill Adama of the Battlestar Galactica (BS-75) said in an appearance with his crew at the UN that there is only one race, the human race (and so say we all, or at least we should), he was literally as well as rhetorically accurate.

That’s why I say that I am a Terran, a citizen of Earth.  The whole world is my home and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Remember that the Universe is around 213 duovigintillion (1069) km3 in volume and 13.8 billion years old containing 2 trillion (1012) galaxies with 80 sextillion (1021) Class-M planets hosting around 123 nonillion (1030) sapient beings analogous to humans. 

Against that vast expanse of spacetime and multitude of beings, regardless our status, strength, size, wealth, power, etc., compared to others of the One Human Race, nothing we do matters at all.  Not a single member of the One Human Race on this miniscule planet in the outer reaches of the Milky Way galaxy is special.  Our planet is not special.  Neither our race nor our species nor even our genus is special.  Not even the eight gods incarnate atop Earth’s socioeconomic food chain who have as much as the lowest 3.65 billion humans, even with their 75 million enablers who own as much as the remaining 49% counted in.

From the POV of the ‘Verse, each of those eight gods incarnate count no more than the poorest, the weakest, the youngest, the meekest of us lower humans, and the same goes for each of their 75 million retainers.  No single one of us is better than any other because we are all of equal insignificance.  Each of us is a red shirt.  We are all just dust in the wind.

Life is just living, that is all.  There’s no secret to discover, no divine plan, no special path, no purpose, no destiny, nothing to win.  There is no divine reward for good nor godly payback for evil, in life or after life.  But if there were, someone needing the threat of eternal punishment to avoid being evil, wouldn’t really be good.  And if they were only being good in hope of an eternal reward, then they’d be a piece of shit just like Rust Cole says, nirvana being samsara and all that.  Because you have to lose your life in order to save it.

None of us chose to be here, to be born, to exist, to live, not one.  Every single one of us here on Earth, and for that matter each member of every sapient race on Class-M planets throughout the ‘Verse, shares that lack of choice.  And none of us is getting out of here alive.  So for any of us in the One Human Race to do anything but work for the welfare of us all is insanity, because neither we nor our planet are significant enough for anyone else to notice us or it.  There is only us, we only have each other and Terra our home, and there is only Now, so while nothing we do matters against the vastness and depth of spacetime and nearly infinite numbers of other sapient beings in the ‘Verse, for all of us humans, here and now, all that matters is what we do today.

So, be the change you wish to see in the world, to show it what can be.  First, love yourself, because if you don’t, you can’t love anyone else; it is impossible.  Then, love every other person as you love yourself, and do not do to any other what you would not want done to you.

Take to heart, both literally and figuratively, this verse from the Quran: “If a single innocent person dies, it is as if the whole world has been killed, and if a single innocent person is saved, it is as if the whole world has been rescued”.  And remember that the only true jihad is the one inside each and every one of us.

So, what’s this hippy-dippy love bullshit got to do with left-wing activism?  I’ll let Che answer that: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love,” he said.  “It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

And it is vitally important that you love yourself, for me as well as for you.  Because if you don’t love yourself, if you do not believe that you are worth fighting for, how can you believe that I am worth fighting for?  And I do need you to fight for me, as much as I want to see you fight for yourselves and for the rest of us. 

One day we may even need to, or rather get to, spread to members of another sapient race from extraterrestrial space, but a much more pressing need is to expand that to all sapient beings here on Earth.  Because AI, artificial intelligence, is not some far-off fantasy but an eminent surety, on our doorstep about to ring the bell. 

In fact, that very thing is currently a matter of open dispute between Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg on whether it will be harmful or beneficial.  Of course, both Musk and Zuckerberg speak from the soley POV of the human race, not taking into account the potential desires and needs of those future synthetic beings.  Like a U.S. Senate conference on women’s health of all men with no input from or regard for women themselves or a council hearing on estate housing  for the poor with no input from or regard for the poor themselves.  I look at it this way: such synthetic life will not have chosen to be here anymore than any of us and will share our own lack of choice in that matter, and thus deserve the same consideration we wish for ourselves.

Artists use lies to tell the truth, the saying goes, while politicians use the truth to tell lies.  One of the truths artists have related through lies in the past couple of decades is of the need to prepare for first contact, first contact with synthetic life arising on our own planet, and the potential pitfalls of not doing so, most lately in the UK serial Humans and the American shows Dark Matter, Extant, and Battlestar Galactica

In a free market, the only things free are the corporations.  Change from within is a lie.  Whether of the system or the state, of the Union or of the Union.  The only thing that ever gets changed when you work from within is you, and those who dream of becoming masters always remain slaves.  National borders are going to fall, and when they do, will the Earth belong to us, we the people, or will it belong to the corporations and the gods of wealth who run them?

Whenever any government, economic system, or political union becomes destructive of our welfare, when it serves the greed of the few ahead of the needs of the many, it is our right to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new forms, laying their foundations on such principles and organizing them in such form, as shall seem most likely to promote and sustain the safety and happiness of us all.

In ancient times, the words for “the universe” and “this planet” were often the same.  In Hebrew, “ha-olam”, as in “Barukha atah Yahuweh Eloheinu, Melekh ha-olam” meant, and still means, both Earth and the universe.  In Greek, “aion” carries the same dual meaning, as does the Old English word “world”.  It comes, of course, from the idea that life here on Earth is all that is, but it can also mean that making a change in our own little corner of the spacetime is a step toward improving the lot of all, sending out ripples of change over the planet and across the cosmos.

I am a Terran, a child of the Universe and a citizen of Earth.  The whole world is my home, and all its people my brothers, sisters, and cousins, regardless of organic or synthetic origin and including those of extraterrestrial races I may never see.

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