Green Myths : There’s only one evil species on Earth and it’s us.
I am not a religious man. For a number of reasons, some intellectual but mostly personal, I don’t even believe in a God but I acknowledge the overall good religion has done in the world, as well as the bad. A religion is after all a man-made thing directed by human beings and will therefore at times reflect the good as well as the bad that we all know humanity has the capacity to do. I respect people who have a true faith and try to live their lives according to its precepts but only as long as they do not expect me to conform to their particular religious beliefs.
If you have thought through your acceptance or rejection of a supreme being, there are a number of commonalities about all the different religious persuasions. The one that I’ve always found objectionable is the basic axiom that there’s something essentially bad about us which only practising a religion can save us from; original sin in the christian context. We’re somehow born cursed and need saving from ourselves.
I do not and never will accept that proposition.
While a religious person has faith that they’re right, I can see, rather than have faith, that humans are basically good. If you have children, you’d have to be pretty strange to look at them and detect any sort of inherent evil in them from the word go. Sure, they’re all going to have some positive and negative character traits but that’s because they’re human beings. People are fundamentally decent. I see it all around me on a day-to-day basis. It’s so pervasive that it’s nearly invisible and on the occasions we really notice it, it can still come as a surprise, even to an optimist like me.
An example that occurred before Christmas springs to mind. I have a few friends who don’t do computers, email or even phones, so I write a Christmas card and post it to them. Cards in hand, I was walking down a long straight road to the nearest post box, when I saw a gaggle of children coming towards me. There were about half a dozen of them, all in the seven to nine-year old range with a couple of them riding bicycles while the rest trotted along with them. A little girl riding a bicycle in front took a tumble and went down in a classic knees and elbows tangle with her bike. It looked awkward but not too bad. There is no such thing as a graceful upset with a bicycle.
It was about four hundred yards away from me and I waited for her to get up. She didn’t move at all, not a muscle. I started walking faster, all the while thinking get up kid, get up. She still didn’t move. I quickly moved through a jog to the full sprint. I got to a hundred yards of them, when she suddenly got to her feet, dusted herself off, got back on the bicycle and they all resumed their progress.
They hadn’t even noticed me tearing in their direction and as I stopped and caught my breath, I felt a bit embarrassed. I looked around to see if anyone had seen me make a fool of myself and noticed that two cars, coming from opposite directions on the road, had also pulled over. The drivers and I all exchanged sheepish grins before they slowly drove off. They’d seen what I’d seen and just as naturally did the decent thing. Like I said, it’s all around us and it’s there for good and practical reasons.
We need to be good to each other not from some inbuilt morality but because if we’re not, then we couldn’t survive as a person, never mind as a species. We all get by because we work with each other, cooperate with each other and do small favours for each other. This is all predicated on a judgement we make several times a day every day, to trust other people are fundamentally decent rather than innately evil. Sure, there are occasionally people you meet that you don’t trust and usually your instincts are correct, but in the main, that’s the basis of how you’ll live your life. No other way is possible. If nobody trusted anyone else, civilisation around the world would crash in a day.
The times you’ll see the goodness in people are usually the most terrible of times. The worse it gets, the harder people have to work together to survive and the more the kindness to each other comes out. This is why the veterans of every war have a closeness to each other that simply can’t be shared with anyone else who wasn’t there.
There is good and evil in the world and although I’ve met a handful of people I’d truly classify as evil, it’s my experience that the majority of evil deeds done are by ordinary people who think they’re somehow acting on behalf of a higher good or bringing a brighter future closer. It’s the old mantra of the end justifying the means and is the characteristic trait of extremist politics and extremist religions.
Environmentalism has over the last two decades perverted itself to the point where it’s become a pseudo religion, a cult worshipping the almighty god Gaia, who must be protected from the innate evil of humanity. When it comes down to a choice between us and Gaia, the cultists are quite prepared to sacrifice us on the altar of their beliefs. Let malaria kill millions of people yearly in the developing world, even though we could eradicate it there, like we did in our world, with DDT. Let people die of starvation because we’ve switched from growing staples to bio fuel crops; it’s to protect Gaia after all. Let other human beings live in the cold and darkness because we don’t think they should have electricity generation plants, though we do. Let them starve and die because we don’t think they should have disease resistant bioengineered crops, though we do.
It’s all about returning the Kingdom of Gaia, that’s to say the Earth, to some ideal balanced state that actually never was but it’s the cult’s version of Heaven. This steady state has never existed anywhere in the universe, never mind on the Earth but that’s what’s in their heads. To achieve it, the whole of humanity is ultimately seen as expendable.
As religions go, it reminds me inescapably of the industrial scale bloodbaths of human sacrifice that the pre-Colombian civilisations of South America indulged in; and it’s just as pointless and ineffective. It didn’t matter a scrap how many thousands they butchered or how much blood ran down the sides of the ziggurats, their non-existent gods were equally indifferent to their pleas for salvation but that never stopped them. Two decades ago I was an environmentalist but not today. Today I hate it and believe that fighting it should be the moral imperative of our generation. What little good it now does is far outweighed by its crimes against humanity. It kills the most vulnerable of us, so we must kill it stone dead.
If the more brutal periods of history teach us anything, it’s that the only people we ever need saving from are those self-appointed people determined to save us from something.
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