Thinking in long, long terms

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Consider the utter complexity of our situation.

Our intelligence and capacity for cooperation are an evolved biological solution to a chain of real life situations, operating under very tight constraints of time, energy, raw materials, historical starting point, etc. Like producing the hardware needed to fit through a mammalian birth canal, to be reasonably protected for a mobile life in a hazardous environment, to consume something like 1,000 calories per day and so on is an amazing accomplishment to say the least. It’s even more amazing when you consider that Life achieved this by mutation and selection over a time scale of some tens of millions of years, starting from what existed back then. And “back then” was the product of a previous two billion years of mutation and selection. And all of that “back then” stuff is still with us genetically.

Our work is furthering cooperation and democracy. The arc of moving in the direction of governing ourselves democratically has been in motion for 300 years or so. It is pitted against the various forms of domination that have been thriving for maybe some 3,000+ years (to use one frame of reference).

Two billion years. Tens of millions of years. A mere 3,000+ years. A 300 year blink.

So how do we activists (scholars and practitioners) see our 60-80 year allotments to play in the sands of universe? What are our rages about? Our fierce urgencies now? The roaring adrenalin in the moments of our triumphs? Our crashes into spells of hopelessness?

Indeed, how do we meaningfully situate our life spans within the long, long spans that swallow them up like a whale a guppy?

Can we think in terms of 30-40 years of loving work and continuous learning how to live well? Can we imagine our efforts following the flow of an arc of three generations from now? An arc of another 300 hundred years of movement toward deeper and more powerful forms of cooperation of life on earth, of earth in universe?

Stuff for our meditation practices, no? Not to mention being here now wherever and whenever that is.

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