Fritjof Capra and Daniel Wahl discuss evolutionary purpose….
Daniel Christian Wahl:
“Before we can ask or answer appropriately what we need to do to create a sustainable human presence, or how we might go about doing it, we need to ask ourselves a more complicated question, a much more difficult question, which is, what is it about human beings that makes us worth sustaining?
I think I would give you an answer from the perspective of evolution. The life forms that are worth sustaining are actually the ones that are sustained in evolution. And they are the ones that best contribute to the continual regeneration and unfolding of life. So, to the extent that we contribute to that, we are worth sustaining and we will be sustained by nature if we do that. To the extent that we are not contributing, which is much more at present than our contributions, we will not be sustained.
If you look at the history of evolution, you can see that the average lifespan of a species from its emergence to extinction is about 5 million years. So, on the average there are species that have lived much longer and others much shorter, but the average is about 5 million years. Now, homo sapiens has lived for about 30,000 years, so we are newcomers still on the planet. We have lived less than 1% of the average lifespan of a species.
So, it is much too early to tell whether we are worth sustaining or not, but at present it doesn’t look very good, we can definitely say that, so this is a dire question.
And I would say that my sense of hope for sustainability and the continuation of humanity on the planet has been inspired very much by Vaclav Havel, the great Czech play write and former president of the Czech Republic.
And let me read to you what he writes about hope. He writes, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” So this has inspired me tremendously for the last many years in how I try to live my life.
Daniel Christian Wahl:
I would second that. And also there’s something about people finally going into the streets and raising an alarm about the imminence of not just… We’re already in the middle of catastrophic climate change, but we have an opportunity, and the window of opportunity is closing, to avoid cataclysmic climate change, where we get to a point where basically higher life forms such as ours will not be on this planet for a while. And facing almost like a species-level rite of passage, facing the real possibility of death at this early point in this jump to the next stage of being a more mature species, a more mature member in the community of life.
There is some grandeur, there is some beauty in us. We have proven, particularly our indigenous brothers and sisters have proven in many places around the world, that we can also be gardeners, that we can have a healing influence on ecosystems. Like for example, the Amazon rainforest being partially human-made by its early inhabitants. So for me, it’s a coming back to the moment, and appreciation, and so deep appreciation also to you for everything you’ve given to me.
Thank you, Daniel. We should continue having these conversations, and continue to build these communities of systemic thinkers and activists as I do in my Capra calls, and you do in your networks and your work – so let’s continue.”