We may be witnessing the collapse of the United States like the collapse of a massive star into a black hole. Nothing lives forever and the headlong acceleration of a nation’s lifespan might be as much effected by technology as industry and society. How could we expect otherwise? We invent our tools with no regard except efficiency; afterwards, our tools invent us.
We have reshaped the world in our own image not by intent but by happenstance. Because we could. We are spectacular opportunists focused on our feet without restraint or responsibility for the future. We have created a world so densely populated and interconnected one part can’t stand without the whole but then we act as if separate and alone.
We will not go gently into that good night, or alone. The extinction event we’ve triggered will ensure that. It’s not the first time or the last that death has descended on the planet like a starless night. Life will continue in some form or other. Maybe not our form.
We are not wholly responsible for our failure. It wasn’t a moral choice we could make unencumbered by our evolutionary history. We have succeeded beyond comparison because of our brilliant flaws. Those flaws may eventually prove fatal but is our failing also our fault? Could we have done otherwise?
Perhaps we’re just one possibility in a continuum where every possibility must eventually be explored and every road travelled to the end. We play our part in a script written by our genes. In the fullness of time, every drama is a tragedy and every life “lopped at the ends by death and conception.”
Perhaps the inevitability absolves us of personal guilt or fear of punishment by some petulant god with the moral compass of a six-year-old child but still we carry the awful burden of watching so much beauty vanish from the earth, knowing we were the agent of indifferent chance. Still we keenly feel the loss of possibilities, the loss of beauty, that our collapse portends. In the past and maybe again in the future an asteroid or a massive volcano might shroud the sun and plunge the earth into ruin but this night was our doing. This was our hand turned against ourselves and every other thing living on this planet.
Another form of intelligence will emerge with time and chance. Perhaps the crows. They’re an old species. They’ve watched humanity’s bloody rise and fall. They’ve fed in the fields where we raged. Perhaps they’ve learned restraint. Perhaps living in the air provides a broader perspective than living in the dirt.
Perhaps. But then the play begins again. The fault is in our stars.