I’ve been doing some research for my next book, ‘How to save the world’. I’ve been reading about, thinking about and watching various movies about ‘the end of the world as we know it’. It’s a daunting process and a daunting concept altogether to ponder what the future might hold for humanity at this moment in history. I have trouble getting my head around it, let alone working out how to talk about it coherently and hopefully instructively. I got to thinking (also known as procrastinating about sitting down and starting work on ‘How to save the world’) that there are many cross over areas between the subject matter covered in ‘How to find love‘ that will recur in ‘How to save the world’. I have been pondering on the way love and fear correlate with creation and destruction.
Let me explain; the “second law of thermodynamics”, the law of entropy, says (in short) that everything in the universe will eventually decay, fall apart, be broken down to its components or in various other ways descend ultimately into ‘nothingness’. Many people, who think about these things too much, worry about the Universe eventually flying apart or grinding to a complete halt one day. There is also an atavistic fear that all humans seem to share of ‘the world’ ending. No doubt this has something complicated to do with our awareness that we are mortal and one day we will die. Nothing in life is more certain than death, after all.
Many people think our current concerns about global warming are just some kind of modern version of many ‘doomsday cults’ that have existed since the dawn of human society; that it’s all in our heads. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. That’s not really the point though, is it? The question is what to do in the face of this kind of conundrum?
Many times in relationships we can let our fears about the ‘end of the world’ (or at least the relationship) overwhelm us and unconsciously hasten its demise by pushing our partner (and others) away, instead of consciously and lovingly drawing them closer to us every day. The fear of being unloved and alone is very normal. But acting it out is not the way to draw people towards you. It’s the way to drive them away. Love and cooperation are actually a much more normal state for humans to operate in than hate and fear. We feel happier when we are in loving and cooperative relationships with our fellow creatures and it’s what everyone wants and craves. It’s in our DNA. We have the ‘bonding’ instinct in common with most of the animal kingdom. It’s particularly strong in mammals and of course primates.
But some people seem to keep suffering from ‘relationship entropy’ where what starts off well soon falls apart, the centre cannot hold and next thing you know it’s splitsville. Why this is so is gone over in quite some detail in the book and I’m not going to reprise it all here.
The laws of thermodynamics cover the behaviour of matter and energy. But physics doesn’t really delve into the somewhat more mystical areas of what might be considered the ‘energies’ of love, creativity and the life force; things that actually create order out of (what might otherwise seem like) chaos. What is the soul? Not to mention – the big one – why is it so? That kind of gets into ‘God territory’ (or at least philosophy and poetry) and that stuff is considered by most physicists to be someone else’s bailliwick.
The way that life always somehow manages to find a way to go on is the sort of thing I’ve been thinking about. I don’t have an opinion really about which, if any, deity might be involved in any of this, but perhaps it’s better just to think of it as that marvelous 20th century invention of George Lucas’; ‘the force’ and leave it at that. I have been reading a lot lately about the impact we’ve had on the natural world – on our biosphere – since we evolved; the mass species extinctions that have followed our spread across the planet and are only accelerating, the pollution we have spread to every corner of the globe, the mayhem that we have caused in almost all the natural systems on this planet including now the upper atmosphere where we once imagined God and the angels to dwell. The whole of ‘creation’ is under threat from the terrible destructive force that is homo sapiens. But nevertheless, life still manages to find a way. Wildernesses recover, wolves return, jungles grow back, plants poke their way up out of sewers and subways, bacteria evolve that can eat plastic, eagles find a way to live and even thrive, perching in New York skyscraper eyries and feeding on rats and pigeons.
Perhaps the way to save an ailing relationship and an ailing planet is the same; use the force. Use love. If only we would pay intent attention to what we’re doing, focus our energy considering carefully the long term consequences of any and all of our actions rather than greedily grasping for the instant, often fleeting, reward we might stop destroying things and start creating them. If only we bent all of our efforts on finding and implementing solutions rather than arguing about problems – we might actually find we could exert a positive influence, not just on our own lives, but on everything around us.
Rather than always saying ‘I want, I want, I want’ we might try saying ‘here you are, you’re welcome, come and share with me, would you like a bit more…’ We might find suddenly our lives became more bountiful the more stuff we gave away, whether it’s love or food or shelter (or plastics, or junk we don’t need, or poisons and addictions and various other things we’d really be better off without). But, well, listen to me running on! That’s starting to sound less like physics and more like metaphysics. That sounds like the Law of Attraction and surely that kind of magical thinking flies in the face of reason, that’s just not common sense …. is it?
I certainly don’t know the answer to that one.