The Superhero Complex
The idea that we need to rescue this world to sustain our existence is not a new one. The entirety of the superhero genre, from Marvel to DC, is based on this principle. However, the realization that the world does not require our species to continue being a hospitable environment is not new either. It is one of those universal understandings that we so easily overlook. The human species is inconsequential in the preservation of our Earth, and can even be perceived as a hindrance in the face of prolonging the life of this planet. Over population, garbage, toxic waste, and global warming. Each of these is mankind’s handiwork. As the belief that we can collectively save our world, and in turn save ourselves, drips from the macroscopic into our personal lives, it can create an ever increasing burden on our psyche.
We are here only because of a catastrophic extinction event that wiped out a species that had thrived for approximately 177 million years, according to the experts: the dinosaurs. In contrast, our own species, Homo sapiens, is said to have emerged from the event approximately 300 thousand years ago, a mere 0.17% of the total time frame that the dinosaurs existed. To show that even after a reign as long as the dinosaur, there is still room for other species to rise. In comparison to our relatively short reign, I can speculate with good reason that something else will fill the void we leave behind, when our species has left this earth. This planet has survived meteorite impacts and ice ages, yet every species that has ever lived upon it, barring the ones still around today, has become extinct. We have forgotten that this is the natural order of things. While it is depressing to look back on all that has been, and all that has disappeared, especially when considering something as majestic as the dinosaur, of which I would guess to be much less egocentric than humans, it is also part of the natural cycle. The macro trickles down to the personal level, as birth and death are natural occurrences in our own lifespans.
This is not to say that I want our civilizations to go around being as much a dick to this place as possible, or to advocate that we murder all other species without hesitation, or that we should kill ourselves, and each other. This is a wake up request. A request for people to acknowledge that all that exists today is only here for a moment, and then it is gone forever. Our species has the wonderful ability, from the ingenuities of scientific minds past and present, to see much of the Universe. Let us observe it while we are here, treat it well, and hope that those that come after us will look back on our history and see something as majestic as the dinosaur.
We are here for an indefinite amount of time. Let us be kind to one another, and recognize that we are all a little frightened of our short allotted life. To have the belief that we know what is best for everything, including the removal of death from ourselves and society, is just hubris. It is okay to die. It is okay to become extinct. We are an innovative species, and we have plenty of inventions and amazing successes to take pride in. The tales of species that have come before have vanished with their existence, but the individuals within those species would have had no better or worse a life for it not being remembered now. They would have lived while they were alive, and that is as much as I can ever hope to do.