In a video about human consciousness recently posted on Smaller Indiana by its founder Pat Coyle, Michael Pollan deals with some interesting and large concepts, starting with not absorbing life's lessons and ending with Darwinism being a process that heals the earth. The thrust of his presentation is that humans are the only species that fails to see itself as a part of nature. Instead, because we have conciousness and toolmaking capabilities, we consume resources instead of contributing to the earth's healing and regeneration process.
The story Pollan tells about a small farm that uses its limited acreage and an ecologically evolved process to produce big results - while improving the quality of the land - is downright inspirational. The only probnlem is that it will take way too long for corportae America to adapt to such a process because it cuts much of the agricultural industrial complex out of the loop.
Pollan's story refers to Darwinism (which is ultimately about survival of the fittest) and to seeing things from the perspective of other species, including plants, and how they battle the same forces of nature we face without tilting the planet off balance with damaging chemicals and processes. The end result for humans is that we as a species will probably become extinct long before most of the rest of the species currently present on the planet will cease to exist. And we will likely have killed ourselves one way or the other through our selfish consumer-oriented and violent lifestyle.
The balance of nature will see to it that the human experiment eventually ceases to exist because we do not justify our presence among the other species, just as nature has wiped out other less-fit species to keep the balance and protect itself. As Pollan points out, healing the earth is a part of the process of the planet's day to day delicately-balanced existence. Only where humans are present does that balance get skewed, because we as a species have failed to absorb life's lessons. Apparently our consciousness gets in the way of true understanding.
Some of the main lessons I see us as a species having failed to learn are well-documented on the front page of Friday's Indianapolis Star. The top story about Kelvin Sampson's failure to learn from his mistakes illustrates how we believe competition, from sports to business, justifies cheating. I can't think of any instances where other species cheat to survive. They just do what comes naturally within the laws, or rules, of nature.
The story about yet another mass murder on our college campuses illustrates our failure as a speces to recognize that our ability for violence is suppossed to be for our survival, like the animals in the jungle, not as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with one's current situation. When did we as a society decide mass murder is an acceptable form of expressing anger?
It sure seems like I read a new story almost everyday about a multiple-victim homicide in this country. And then I casually move on to the sports section to read about the latest juicy scandal there. I don't give the latest mass murder a second thought, and I suspect most people don't either, because before I have time to think about the tragedy I am greeted with the next day's news about the next mass murder on the next campus or in the next shopping mall.
The story about a local high school employee being arrested on suspicion of locker room video voyeurism and child pornography illustrates how we as a species have failed to understand, and properly teach to our children the relationship of intimacy and love to our survival as a species. The story also shows how we as a species are slowly transforming into a more technological being every day as opposed to a human being. We've lost our humanity and exchanged it for an iPhone (guilty as charged) or a gun (not guilty.)
The real sadness of it all is the fact that the editors of the Star chose to place the Sampson story above the the story about the mass slaying of our best and brightest just a few miles away. We are wiping out our future with pistols and rifles while we distract ourselves by watching basketball games and conducting congressional hearings about steroids.
If I was at the helm of a local media outlet or an Indiana educational institution, I would be more concerned as to when a campus mass murder jumps across the state line and plagues a Hoosier university than I would be concerned about our future roundball recruiting capabilities at good old IU.
These stories indicate that our state and community are not immune to the virus eating away at the moral compass of America. We have lost our way and we may not have a tool to help us safely return home. Our problems as a society are much bigger than a few phone calls to high school students with athletic skills. The fact is, if we don't do something soon about the pervasiveness of violence in our culture, and the presence of firearms in the hands of anyone itching to prove he's a misunderstood man worthy of respect, our children will be lucky to make it to graduation day alive.