Will the Covid-19 pandemic drastically decimate the population? Maybe this virus is the earth’s antibody against the human infection that is otherwise on a sure path to destroying pretty much everything. Am I upset about it? I’ll be upset if it affects people who are close to me. I will feel sorrow for the others who are affected. I have the luxury to bear the psychic burden of the world’s misery at my leisure. That sounds cold, but it’s how humans work at this point in our evolution. There’s a finite range to our empathy, beyond which our emotional response is attenuated. Maybe we’re evolving toward greater sensitivity, and maybe it’s the present dullness of that sensitivity that has allowed us to slip into these dire circumstances.
One way or another things were going to get bad for humans, and maybe this is among the less painful scenarios. The disease takes its course relatively quickly, more quickly than starvation, for instance and probably less painfully than radiation poisoning. It takes the least toll on the rest of the planet.
Those of us who have done the math and believe that with the right application of will and intelligence we could make the world habitable, even at the current level of population, will be agonized by our missed opportunity. But by any stretch of the imagination, it was a longshot. We humans have a great potential for influencing our own evolution, but not by transcending nature. Many of us sense that we have the potential for gentling the cycle of creation and destruction, that our capacity to comprehend what’s happening could lead us toward corrective action. Populations of animals expand during times of plenty, overload their ecosystem, and crash. That’s the destiny we’ve been able to see ourselves headed toward but have thus far been unable to steer away from. Can we preserve what we’ve learned from this experience so we can apply that wisdom to the next turning of the wheel? For me, that’s the territory where hope lies.
That next turning of the wheel may be right around the corner.