The Apocalypse, the big one, the big finish, that should have happened by now. With the number of nuclear weapon incidents we’ve had, every one ending with a line about how, but for the one… switch, latch, trigger either failing or holding in such a way to prevent a fully-armed detonation of a weapon, I find it miraculous that the word “every” needs no qualifiers.
Humans, as a rule, are not any less error-prone since 1945. We’ve had lethal incidents involving nuclear power and even nuclear weapons, but nothing that destroys cities, let alone all life on earth. Make no mistake that the decision to initiate actions with the intent to end all life on earth is in the hands of a very small number of decision-makers. So far, that decision has not been made, either purposefully or accidentally. Early detection and launch control systems have produced conditions that could have resulted in catastrophic, accidental, global thermonuclear warfare. Not just one or two: far too many to count on two hands.
This, on top of our planet having received the blessings of a flawless 4.6 billion year run, at least from the observer bias of being a member of the human species. Had humans popped on the scene simultaneous with the riotous explosion of life in the Permian, while our brains would have given us a grand advantage, there would have been no supply of cheap, efficient fuel directly beneath the surface. Had the world brought forth life in abundance and glory only 100 million years after the planet formed, that life would not walk a metaled world: the supernova dust that brought metals to earth took a span of aeons to accumulate here. I could go on, but Stanislav Lem has already written that essay, so I refer interested readers to seek out his words on this topic. Suffice to say, our planet has a long and fortunate history of being in the right place at the right time.
And here I see another suspension of the laws of probability simply because I draw breath. By rights, I figure that humanity should have snuffed it back in the 60s or 70s… or last week. Why are we still here? Are we really that lucky, or is there a force at work that is preserving us for a later purpose?
Those who know me will not be surprised to see me subscribe to the latter view. There are things that must happen, so they will happen. Events that would interfere with those things that must happen will not be allowed to come to pass. Not just nuclear holocausts: financial collapses, asteroid impacts, solar flares – there are so many things that could destroy life as we know it and as it exists with either complete or near-complete wiping out of the whole of humanity, and yet, they do not impact us, not now, and not for some time.
It’s not just that the end is near. The end is whizzing past our heads. The end can arrive at any time. But I believe that it will not arrive until it needs to. I believe that what stays the end for now is that there is a higher purpose that must be accomplished here. When that purpose is complete, the end to this existence arrives – I believe that is the way with any life, really. But when the end to the purpose for the world being our world, as we know it, when that end comes, there is something else to happen after that.
We do not have forever, but we have as long as we need, provided we are about the business of making better choices and learning how to love better. Today is always the day to strive to do better in our lives.