The other day I overheard, on CBC, another person talking about the huge numbers of species going extinct and about some of the big names on the list in the not-too-distant future. “More bad news.” I thought, then thought again, “All ‘The News’ is bad news because all the good news is not reported.” The Buddhist sayings jumped into my head: “Everything is unfolding as it should.” and “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.” So what’s the upside of mass extinction?
Well that’s odd! There may actually be one. We could call it the Evolutionary Imperative. Brian Swimme, the cosmologist asserts that evolution is a property of the Universe, that runs through everything in it. I like that idea and I also like what may be called the Bergsonian Theory of Evolution: that evolution happens when organisms adapt in the face of a crisis. In a crisis the environment has changed and the organism is under stress. It must change, adapt soon, or die. But for every organism that adapts to environmental change how many more fail to do so and die? Humans seem to have the dubious role of accelerating evolution by changing environments and speeding up those changes. This generates crises, putting our own species, as well as all the others now, into an evolutionary crisis, a bifurcation, adapt or succumb, evolve or die, up or down.
I think, talking of evolution running through us, that our lives have their own smaller versions of evolutionary crises: personal crises. I call them AFGO’s, short for Another Fucking Growth Opportunity. Ever had one of those? Adapt or die a little. Grow or shrink. Trauma is when we shrink.
In the dark night of my soul I think I was saved from worse trauma by remembering the Chinese word for crisis, which has two characters, danger and opportunity. I said to myself, “Now is my crisis. Where is the opportunity?” Finding the opportunity was key.
The extinctions could be the dark side of an evolutionary event. All the creatures that can’t adapt to the advent of the Anthropocene Era exit here. The good news that we don’t see is of the creatures that do adapt to the new era, leaping to their next evolutionary stage, beyond my conception. For humans, leaping to a sort of mass buddha-hood, beyond my experience but within my conception? We would then experience our interconnection with one-another and with all life.