Humans are a magnificent creation from all that went before, but a paradox; we have the power of conceptuality enabling solving complex problems countered by subconscious emotions that enabled more primitive species to survive extraneous danger, but now disable us as often as not.

Further complicating our condition is the variability of perception. We're all cut out from the same genetic cloth but every person is an island because each has a different neurological makeup and a different method of coping. People react within the context of their conceptualization of existence and their survival strategy. This difference in each brain enabled survival of the fittest inside tribes, but when in competition between tribes survival was achieved by cooperation. ( Nationalism and racism are the culturally nurtured outgrowth of simple tribalism). It is vital to keep in mind the variability of perception in order to keep communication going and to reach common ground.

Our brains have been shaped by the hammer of natural selection upon the anvil of nature. The powers and idiosyncrasies of the human brain bear the marks of their origin. All groups of lower species exhibit similar characteristics. The higher up the ladder of evolution, the more individualistic the members of a species are.

The characteristics of our species now face the greatest challenges and dilemma since we first walked upright - survival of the biosphere and avoiding a nuclear holocaust. Like it or not, we humans are now managing an entire biosphere. What's at stake is a potential crash involving near 8 billion people with millions of other organisms as bystanders. We would then face a grim period of social chaos, warfare, famine, and unchecked disease.

Combatting this can only be solved by global understanding and cooperation. Human history with COVID-19 isn't a very encouraging sign. However, it is a clarion call that drags us up from our self-absorption, and that might unite us in common cause. Purpose and a code of ethics are necessary to sustain effort in the face of difficulty and disappointment. The Preamble to the United Nations, a body that represents most nations on Earth, provides a strong reason for hope. It states that we are all in this together, and follows with 17 sustainable development goals. A consensus to value the quality of life as much as the quantity of things is suggested. It points at the severe damage to our planet, to our lost happiness and to that of future generations if we continue to follow a primitive survival of the fittest mindset.

The U.N. and other organizations provide a market place of ideas. Shared ideas are the lifeblood of progress. We can all play a meaningful part in grappling with the profound global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, but first we have to face the reality of our nature. Reason does not have to be the slave of the passions. We humans have the capacity to rise above precepts chosen by intuition based on emotions which are primarily biological in origin. In the case of protecting Mother Earth, reason could at least accompany emotion. Our natural drive to only favor self and tribe can be superseded by a global recognition that a sustainable planet benefits self, our tribe, and our global tribe.

The fictional stories we invent about ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the planet are ultimately going to bump up against the limits of the biosphere. Egocentric separation is an illusion. It is a psychological and social construct to make individuals and tribes feel they are the center of the universe. The drive to survive, the most powerful force in nature, is subconsciously behind it all. So it is quite understandable but could cost us the world. The hope is to open up the heart into the awe of existence, not to eradicate our personality, but to expand the text in which it lives and to gain a wider identity, a sense of interconnectedness.

As our astronauts agreed, we humans are a magnificent creative species existing on a living breathing organism hanging in the blackness of space. All of the different creatures, the oceans, the atmosphere, the soil are working together to keep the optimum conditions for life on Earth continuing. This is our umbilical cord. We are Earth's song.

Joe Gerlach