By Larry Feinstein

Photograph of Charles Darwin in 1867 by Julia Margaret Cameron.

Photograph of Charles Darwin in 1867 by Julia Margaret Cameron.

“Whilst Man, however well-behaved, at best is but a monkey shaved!”

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species

Where is Charles Darwin when you need him? Well, he is in my head, where has been stuck now for a couple of weeks.

This story begins in the Beginning, the scientific one. It is about our connection to all things living. The chain of life has billions of links, each one delicately clipped to the next. The integrity of these linkages is crucial to our future. We have operated forever as if we are independent of all other life forms, our actions absent of consequences. To make matters even worse, we keep repeating our missteps with each other and our environment.

I am one of those minds that are kind of restless, always looking around. From my perspective, it is hard to imagine when things were more screwed. I have lost count of the wars we are fighting and who the good guys are. We have a global homeless crisis up around 60 million people and there is no damn reason for it. Speaking of the globe, we have manhandled our environment and its resources, likely causing irreparable damage for hundreds of years, if not thousands. If I continue with this list, I will have to go home, pull down the shades and throw the covers over my head.

Even if things are no worse than they have been and we are simply living in a communications revolution flooding us with information, things still suck. It would be helpful if we could at least agree the world could be in much better shape than it is right now. One more thing, can we also agree human behavior is the cause of all our crises?

According to Charlie, there is a connection between all life forms, having begun with a mysterious spark that birthed a single cell. Scientists will go nuts trying to put a precise time stamp on that miracle and it may just continue to be a matter of faith that it somehow happened.

I am not sure how much time any of us devote to the reality that all living things are related in some unbelievably complicated manner. The Buddha had this idea of something called Dependent Co-Arising. It’s the old story of the butterfly flapping its wings in Ghana, creating a draft on the neck of some guy walking the streets of Brooklyn.

Many of us seem to be missing the point that we are all in this together, and that means everyone, regardless of where we live, what language we speak, what God we worship and this list is endless. While I am at it, let’s not forget the Orangutan, the Squid and the Robin.

The history of the upright, two-legged folks like us goes back to a primitive time when we were at the very beginning of our lineage. In the absence of sufficient grey matter, conflicts were resolved with violence. To this day, it is still our favorite resolution of choice. Accepting our intricate, interconnected existence with all things, this violence has a devastating effect that goes far beyond the act itself.

Larry Feinstein

Larry Feinstein

Here is where Charlie D. comes to the rescue, offering tangible hope for our future. He was likely best known for the idea that strength and intelligence are not the keys to survival; it is the ability to adapt to change. As more and more people understand we are all on this planet, linked together forever, the only way to insure our future has to be about severing the roots of our primitive past.

Evolution is a gradual process that still requires a beginning. Our lives depend upon our willingness to get started on achieving the promise of the Homo sapiens species or we need to make room at the top of the ladder for a more adaptable one to stand guard.

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