Sunday, 28 February 2016
Coincidence and survival
Lent 2016: Day 19
I've written about the enormously massive influence of chance that you and I are here today, sentient beings aware of their existence.
From the laws of physics being just right for a Universe to develop life, to the planet Earth evolving in the right direction to let that life blossom forth, to that infinitesimally tiny likelihood that all of your ancestors going back to the very beginnings of evolution managed to procreate.
Whatever woes and concerns trouble us now, we should always be able to step back and be conscious of - and grateful for - that miracle of being aware.
Chance - przypadek - has played such a huge role in our past - what role will it play in our future?
One thing is certain; because yesterday was good, it does not necessarily mean that tomorrow will automatically be good. We know that very bad events can kick off, almost out of nowhere.
Here, in this part of Central Europe, in the summer of 1939, who had an inkling that a catastrophic war was weeks away from breaking out, that would end leaving six million Polish citizens dead and the country under foreign occupation for half a century?
Disasters can come in many guises. Ones that threaten all mankind: supervolcanoes, orders of magnitude larger than the ones we've seen in recent history. Massive asteroid impact. Deadly infectious disease with an airborne vector. Nuclear war. Climate change. And flare from a solar storm hitting Earth could knock out most of the electricity on the parts of the planet it hit. [Read about the full range of global catastrophic risks here.]
They are, in themselves, statistically small risks, though the chances of them occurring are far, far higher than the chances of you having been born.
Scientists are doing their bit to keep them at bay (asteroids we'll be able to knock out in distance space before too long, disease, war and anthropogenic climate change are within our control; supervolcanoes are, however long overdue).
Can catastrophes be held at bay by metaphysical means?
I have written about our existence at the edge of chaos. Bad things - really bad things - can happen to us out of the blue. "...Things could be goin' jake one minute, then, presto - before you know it, you're history," to quote from Katherine Bigelow's film, The Loveless. Complacency, a weary acceptance that nothing bad will happen to me today because nothing bad happened to me yesterday, is the enemy here.
Just as we should spare a thought about fate at the personal level, so we should consider the wider world. Give thanks, offer gratitude that we are (with unhappy exceptions) at peace and getting on with it. Give thanks, and in doing so, pray that those really nasty catastrophes do not befall Mankind, so that we can continue to evolve spiritually, moving away from Zero, towards One, away from the bestial, towards the angelic. Pray. Pray for yourself, your nearest and dearest, your nation, our world.
This time three years ago:
The Book of Revelations
This time four years ago:
Strong late-winter sunshine
This time five years ago:
Best pics from February 2011
This time six years ago:
This time eight years ago:
End of the line