What Is

Your own personal forever-unique DNA has been billions of years in the making.
The probability that your exact DNA could happen to come into existence is all but zero.
The probability that it does exist is 100%. Here you are!
There is a direct unbroken connection from you back to the very first sparks of life on earth.
Contemplate your navel, and its navel, and its navel, …
Contemplate yourself contemplating yourself contemplating…

You are a process, not a thing.
You could not exist unless other humans existed.
Humans could not have existed unless plants existed.
Plants could not have existed unless single-celled photosynthesis existed amidst water and dirt.
You are an unplanned side effect of starlight pushing around sea water and dirt on this planet.

Wind and water and dirt are all unplanned side effects of starlight – sunlight – pouring onto the earth.
You are unable to live on water and dirt. You can live only by consuming other life and oxygen.
You are able to convert other life to energy only through the bacteria in your gut.
You could be seen as bacteria’s way of moving around, a bus for microorganisms.
Microorganism cells comprise 60-90% of the cells in your body and up to 3% of your weight.
Your immune system, outsourced to microorganisms, does not belong to you.
You are a vibrant community of many life forms.

Life feeds on life. You feed on life.
Your nature is red in tooth and fingernail.
You compete daily with other life for your sustenance.

Everything everywhere is always changing. There is no fixed thing; there are only processes.
Time and change are identical. To be unchanging is to be frozen in time, inert, unreal.
You have to die because the universe is always changing but your own DNA cannot change.
Eventually your body could no longer function in an inevitably much-changed environment.
Maybe the atmosphere became toxic, maybe your gut bacteria succumbed to viruses.
Maybe an asteroid strike killed you, as happened to the dinosaurs.
The earth itself will die inevitably.

We humans are just now beginning to be able to predict how the universe will change in the future.
Until now, from the standpoint of life, all change in the environment has been effectively random.
Because life feeds on life, the environment is full of feedback loops and thus is extraordinarily complex.
Life persists only because it has reproduced with random variation from each generation to the next.
Each individual multicellular life form, for life as we know it, does not and cannot fundamentally change.
Each individual is constrained by its exact DNA.

But each life form’s lineage has to change, because the environment is always changing randomly.
Therefore changes during lineage reproduction have to be random as well.
Otherwise some random change in the environment will wipe out all of the lineage’s current progeny.
Which will happen eventually anyway: every lineage dies for the same reason every individual dies.
Each lineage is constrained by the general shape of its DNA.
Eventually the environment will have changed too much for it.

The degree of randomness during reproduction is tied to the rate of random change in the recent environment.
It could not be otherwise.
Too random now, and too many offspring will be unable to live or to reproduce.
Not random enough over time, and the lineage will wither away quickly.

Nothing about any process’s direction of change has been planned or foreseen, or needs to have been.
This moment’s environment is a passive filter through which some individual life forms will happen to pass.
No one can predict with complete certainty which ones will happen to pass and successfully reproduce.
Maybe none will this time.

The always-changing environment unawarely sculpts lineages, like swirling winds sculpt hoodoos.
Starlight, geothermal heat and gravity unawarely sculpt the environment.
All force arises from one Big Bang. Call it God if you prefer.

Until we humans can manage ourselves and our planet, we will compete ferociously with each other.
Some or many among us will force others, exploit others, constrain others, starve others, kill others.
There is no guarantee that we will ever manage ourselves.
Very possibly we will destroy ourselves, all of us.

Why should I not seize whatever I can from other humans and prosper greatly myself at their expense?
Why should I not ferociously or cleverly amass a great fortune while humans are dying nearby in the streets?
That would be unfair.
Some say that fairness is only for children and idiots and mushy-hearted snowflakes.
Even chimpanzees sense fairness, though, despite their blood-lust violence and cannibalism.

Human groups – families, clans, nations – persist when enough members act with fairness and foresight.
The ferocious can prevail, sometimes for generations, but our overall arc has been towards fairness.
Self-interest and community interest coexist and compete inside us.
It could not be otherwise.
Neither interest can survive by itself.
You cannot survive by yourself.
You don’t have to be fair. And you might prevail cleverly or ferociously through your whole life.
But we, all of us together, have to act fairly enough so that we together can live and persist.
Else our lineages and our species shall surely perish far sooner than they had to.

Your community interest must inform your self-interest.
Your self-interest must inform your community interest.
It should not be otherwise.

Come on people now, smile on your brother.

Leave a comment

Filed under Evolution, Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s