The following is an excerpt from personal memoirs I’m currently working on. It details my concluding thoughts on human nature, the state of civilization, and our potential future, which some might find interesting, intriguing, and maybe even disturbing.
By Robert A. Vella
Those [redacted] I highlighted earlier who ignored, encouraged, or performed violence were not “evil.” I believe our cultural concepts of good and evil are fallacious. Rather, such traits are naturally inherent in our species. There have been countless times throughout our history when high aggression gave us a survival advantage. However, this isn’t always the case. When aggression is mindless or reckless, it can leave us exposed and vulnerable. The evolution of intelligence and wisdom are also effective survival strategies which have become imperative in today’s overpopulated, resource depleted, and ecologically degraded world. It’s intrinsically a philosophical question. Do you believe that humanity flourishes best in a primal, tribal, generally anarchistic state; or, do you believe that we are capable of advanced evolution? An enlightened future for humankind, perhaps as brilliantly depicted by television screenwriter Gene Roddenberry (1921-1991) in his popular Star Trek productions, is eminently preferable at least in my opinion. It gives us something higher to strive for which I’m convinced is an absolute necessity if our modern civilization is to survive its current technological adolescent stage marred by worsening existential social crises. Furthermore, we really cannot go back to our hunter-gatherer way of life at least not without a global catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. It is civilization which allowed billions of human beings to populate the Earth. Homo sapiens emerged 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, and up until the advent of agricultural civilization about 10,000 years ago, its global population never exceed 15 million. That figure is less than one-fifth of one percent of today’s total! Take civilization away and billions will die, and that is a mathematical certainty.
Now, let’s consider these two final thoughts together to more clearly see the existential dilemma facing humanity in this pivotal 21st century. I’ve established that modern civilization is imperative for both maintaining our large population and to facilitate the progressive evolution of our species. I’ve also established that some form of social control is imperative for maintaining modern civilization. But, here’s the problem. Excessive social control, such as the misguided and brutal authoritarianism of Europe’s so-called “Dark Ages” (a.k.a. Early Middle Ages from the 5th to 10th centuries C.E.), has proved to be antithetical to these goals. Between the anarchy of chaos and the rigid constraints of tyranny lays the stable societal path forward for prosperity. In government, we must be democratic (i.e. free and fair elections). On justice, we must be republican (i.e. equal treatment under the rule of law). In education, we must provide schooling liberally and curriculums must be committed to whole verifiable truths (regardless of how inconvenient or discomforting such truths might be). On economics, we must be egalitarian yet we must not stifle creativity nor innovation (constructive self-interest is desirable, destructive greed and narcissism are not). In all of our domestic and foreign relations, we must be peaceful while ensuring our legitimate common defense (wars sought by capricious or ideological motives must be outlawed). This ideal societal path, however, is highly vulnerable to our worst human impulses and requires vigilant support from the majority of the populace. Therefore, those holding positions of power or those who wield great influence over others must always act to earn the public’s trust in our social institutions. Corruption, deceit, and harmful behavior by officials are cancerous to civil society and simply cannot be tolerated especially by those who do hold power or wield influence. Furthermore, public trust is also dependent upon the principled foundations of our social institutions. If the foundation is not principled or if it is based on falsehoods, then it can only be sustained through manipulation and/or intimidation which effectively destroys that necessary public trust and eventually results in an institutional collapse (e.g. the Roman Empire). And, considering the UFO phenomenon detailed above, the reality of it (whatever it is) may indeed expose our social institutions’ flawed foundations and that might be the reason why members of the political establishment (e.g. former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) were and still are trying to keep it secret. If this is actually the case, then you and I and every human being on this planet has been living a lie – perhaps, the greatest of all lies. Who are we? Why are we here? What really is this place we call Earth? I want to know the whole truth, don’t you?
In prehistoric cultures, the people were told they were subordinate to celestial gods like the Sun and Moon. Upon the advent of agricultural societies, the people were told they were subordinate to rather arbitrary races of gods such as in Greek mythology; or, they were subordinated under less theistic and more philosophical religious constructs which developed throughout east and south Asia. By the arrival of the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the people were told they were subordinate to just one god and disobedience could be treated most harshly. Then came various monarchies whose royal sovereigns were elevated above the masses and below “God” but who wielded absolute power nonetheless (e.g. King Henry VIII). The allure of dictatorship proved insatiable, and two infamously ruthless figures rose to power in the 20th century (the fascist Nazi Adolf Hitler, and the communist Joseph Stalin) who eschewed the monarchist religious trappings in favor of overt totalitarianism. Regardless of whether dominion over the populace rested in a theocrat or autocrat, the result was essentially the same – tight control over the masses. Name me a “good” emperor, if you can, and I’ll show him or her to be only less abusive than the “bad” ones. So, all authoritarian forms of government are based on flawed social foundations. The concept of gods is at best mythology. Philosophical religious constructs which promote specific lifestyles and behavior cross the line when it is mandated. And, despotic edicts are meaningless without the implied or explicit threat of violence. In democracies, social control is more subtle. Since the people have a voice in public, in elections (at least in functioning democracies), and in their ability to act more freely, they consent to abide by the rule of law (as a condition of citizenship). In lieu of arbitrary power, democracies depend on cultural exploitation to sway public opinion in a particular direction. This is where the media, churches, and other mainstream institutions play a key role. The intent may be legitimate (e.g. promotional advertising to inform the public about vaccine benefits and safety) or it can be illegitimate (e.g. Donald Trump’s myriad attempts to undermine public trust in U.S. elections). When illegitimate intentions become the driving force behind culture, as is currently the case, democracies self-destruct and authoritarianism quickly fills the void. That is why it is so important for democracies to be honest while working to keep the populace educated and engaged. Lies and hidden truths are kryptonite to democracy; and, there is no more egregious lie than a democratic government covertly subordinating itself to the power of money (e.g. corporate consolidation/monopolization – a.k.a. corporatism) or to the power of might (e.g. America’s military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation about upon leaving office).
The United States of America is now demonstrating to the world how it is mostly responsible for humanity’s existential dilemma in the 21st century. When it assumed the role of global leader during the devastation of World War II, it accepted profound responsibilities which could only be fulfilled through administrative integrity and total commitment to its stated values. That it failed was an inevitable outcome because even America’s founding fathers couldn’t prevent human weaknesses from subverting the constitutional precepts and governmental framework they had so proudly established. The killer agent was too much power acquired with its military ascendency. After the fascism/imperialism of Germany, Italy, and Japan were defeated, the U.S. directed its might against the communism of the Soviet Union and Red China. And, while that Cold War was being waged, the U.S. chose to attack an ever expanding list of perceived enemies up to and including its own people. Each arrogantly miscalculated incident – such as assassinations, illegitimate wars, and gross inhumanity – sowed the seeds of its future downfall. Today, the leaders who were responsible along with their complicit successors, either insist that they couldn’t see it coming, sheepishly assert that they had no other choice, or still adamantly deny that it is happening. Their recklessness has stripped them of all credibility, and that will be their enduring legacy as it will be ours.
Without knowing what the UFO phenomenon is, and whether it has any impact on humankind’s ability to control its own destiny, making predictions about our immediate future would be valueless. However, assuming that we humans are in control, what is likely to happen in the coming decades is more foreseeable than it is speculative. First, the demise of democracy in conjunction with the rise of authoritarianism will certainly continue because the societal conditions which drive it (i.e. social anxiety and institutional distrust) will only get worse as climate change/overpopulation steadily increases the stresses on people’s daily lives which in turn will trigger more divisive tribalism and demands for drastic action. Consequently, wars undoubtedly will result although how large and destructive they might be is anyone’s guess. Food and fresh water shortages are also certain as is the rising rate of infectious disease outbreaks. Eventually, the population will turn on the authoritarians they had put into power and the remnants of modern civilization will crumble into dust. The human populace, decimated and destitute, could very well split into two unequal and separated populations as depicted by H. G. Wells in The Time Machine. Segregated in underground facilities or secluded in remote sanctuaries, the world’s wealthy elite will maintain some technology while the impoverished masses will have to fend for themselves across a ruined and deteriorating landscape. The global population will plummet in accordance with the ecological conditions which result. If both groups of humans survive (note: Homo sapiens have survived depopulation events in the past and will probably survive this one), they could manage to merge back together at some point or they might evolve in two distinct species after thousands of years. In any case, humanity will be taking a giant step backwards.
I wonder if something similar has happened before. The end of the last ice age, which occurred at the Pleistocene-Holocene epoch boundary 10,000-12,000 years ago, resulted in sea level rise of about 400 feet (120 meters) worldwide. Obviously, this was a huge catastrophe for many living things. At that time, Homo sapiens had existed for at least 200,000 years and were thought to have lived in small hunter-gatherer tribes. However, recent discoveries – such as the Göbekli Tepe archaeology site in Turkey – indicate that higher social organization was present long before the birth of agricultural civilization. Furthermore, ancient stories from all over the world and passed down through the millennia (including a well-known biblical account) similarly describe a calamitous global flood which destroyed the previous human societies. If true, it is possible that social collapse and regeneration has occurred more than once; and, if so, the death and rebirth of civilization might be cyclical in some way.