Generation X, Aliens, Ecology, and the Future

by Ken Nichols O'Keefe

To those of us who seriously delve into global ecology issues, pessimism awaits. This pessimism sadly reflects the realities of our current ecological state. You do not need a Ph.D., college diploma, high school diploma, or any diploma for that matter. You will require a conscience however.

"I have seen with my own eyes how our waters have sickened. Reefs that teamed with fish only ten years ago are now almost lifeless. The ocean bottoms have been raped by trawlers. Priceless wetlands have been destroyed by development. Everywhere there are sticky globs of oil, plastic refuse and clouds of poisonous effluents." - Jacques Cousteau - Scuba Diving Magazine 1995

Cousteau's statement stands on its own and to question his unparalelled credibility is to live in denial. Undoubtedly nobody ever knew the oceans more. To me it is an embarrassing insult to the collective intelligence and conscience of humanity to even debate this mans understanding of the seas. As Cousteau stated quite succinctly; "The oceans are dying". To debate this is to be manipulated by the destroyers and profiteers. This only results in more time, for more destruction. The recent World (Puppet) Summit in South Africa shows us who to trust if we want more of the same. Cousteau's vision will never die as long as "We the People" acknowledge and respect it. Ultimately a crash of the entire global ecosystem awaits. Unless of course,& we hear Cousteau, and make a serious change of course, now.

The reason for our thus far, unimpressive ecological stewardship of Mother Earth is in great part explained by a tremendous imbalance between our ethics and our technological growth. Ethical evolution has progressed ever so slowly, but steadily. Technology however is growing wildly. Exponentially. Fifty years ago technologically, televisions were magical machines . Today we can create entirely new species or clones via genetic engineering. Fifty years ago ethically we had Nazis threatening to dominate the world. Today we have fewer Nazis but better weapons are available to those few and ethnic cleansing is a reality. Today we can also exterminate nearly all life on this planet instantaneously with the press of a button. Fifty years ago this was not possible. Is this truly progress?

"Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
Thomas Edison - Harper's Magazine 1890

Our problem is that technology demands proportionate growth ethically.

Consider this. Are we alone in the universe? Given our understanding of the age of the universe and its immense size, is it reasonable to surmise that alien life forms do exist and that they are visiting us regularly? I believe it is. Not only is there tremendous circumstantial evidence supporting this, but massive amounts of empirical evidence as well. Among the evidence, the pyramids, crop circles appearing out of nowhere, Easter Island, crash sites with unidentifiable spacecraft materials, mountains of video and still photographs of UFO's, many of which have withstood our most intense scientific scrutiny and even alien bodies appear to have been recovered by the US government. Given this I have developed a theory. This theory is expressed as:

Technology + Ecology = Future. '

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The theory is supported in part by citing potential alien life with infinitely superior technology. If indeed we are being visited by alien life forms, they are unquestionably superior to us technologically by virtue of their ability to travel here in the first place. This being the case, it would seem fair to conclude that they also have proportionately superior weapons capabilities. Indeed, when we project our version of science fiction aliens onto the big screen or books, they nearly always have intents to dominate and destroy the human species. These projections are in reality projections of ourselves into the future we envision and are reflective of our poorly developed ethics. Because we currently as a species subscribe to the philosophy of might makes right, we limit our understanding of other beings with highly developed brains as having the same violent tendencies that we do. If I am wrong and we are destined to fight these interstellar wars with marauding bands of evil aliens, why then have these menacing aliens chosen thus far to simply leave us alone? Why haven't they simply come here with their superior technology, destroyed us with their superior technology, and taken whatever it is that they want,& with their superior technology??? The reason I believe is one of two primary possibilities.

#1 There are no aliens. We are alone in the universe.

This sounds terribly reminiscent of the earth being flat and our planet being the center of the universe.

#2 All aliens able to travel millions of light-years, perhaps into other dimensions of time and space understand and apply one amazingly simple yet critical principle. The principle of respect and compassion for all life. The principle which acknowledges the unity of all life.

Its that simple. Essentially this is ecology balanced with ethics. This is the secret to survival and prosperity as a species. Technology can only evolve so long in an ethical vacuum before that technology inevitably destroys its producers. The clearest example again being nuclear weapons. How long until some maniac gets his hands on one of the hundreds of unaccounted for nuclear warheads? When this warhead is detonated in New York or Moscow will it trigger World War III? This is the reality of a world dominated by technology void of ethics. A recipe for disaster. Any truly "intelligent" species would recognize this before ignorantly exterminating themselves and everything around them. But do we recognize this? On the contrary, we continue to develop weapons of mass destruction and other technologies which exploit and destroy.

"The human spirit is not dead. It lives on in secret& It has come to believe that compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer - Nobel Peace Prize address: The Problem of Peace in the World Today

Ethics in its purest form is respect for life, all life. Bacteria, viruses, plants, cockroaches, people, etc. This does not mean that the killing of life is unacceptable. It most certainly is, especially regarding self defense and self preservation. But more often than not we kill without necessity, or worse yet, we kill for selfishness and greed.

"When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future." - Dian Fossey - Last entry into her journal the night she was murdered.

One example of this is our insatiable desire for animal foods as opposed to plant foods. The fact is that the higher we eat on the food chain (animals being higher than plants), the more resources we consume and in turn the more lives both plant and animal are killed. Put more simply, an average meat based diet depletes the planets resources infinitely more than an average plant based diet. So for an "environmentalist" to be focused on conservation while indulging in a meat based diet is pure and undeniable hypocrisy. This is a fact that many people do not want to hear, but many people in South Africa did not want to hear Nelson Mandela speaking out against Apartheid. To me the issue is not whether it is pleasant to hear but is it true? And if it is, what are we going to do about it?

"If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals." - Leo Tolstoy - The First Step

In reality our 99 cent Whoppers and Big Macs have more to do with the destruction of the planet than virtually anything else we do as consumers. More than anything!

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on Earth as much as the evolution of a vegetarian diet." Albert Einstein.

Rainforest depletion, topsoil erosion, desertification, pesticide and chemical proliferation, global warming, fossil fuel pollution, fresh water depletion and groundwater contamination, unparalleled human caused species extinction, biodiversity loss, the list goes on. All these things are impacted most by our consumption of resources high on the food chain. I shall win no popularity contests by writing the above facts but popularity is the last of my concerns. My goal is to protect what life we haven't already exterminated, including ourselves.

"It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. It was once considered foolish to suppose that black men were really human beings and ought to be treated as such. What was once foolish has now become a recognized truth. Today it is considered as exaggeration to proclaim constant respect for every life form of being the serious demand of a rational ethic. But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer - Civilization and Ethics

My theory in short is that by adhering to the principles of respect for life, we ensure our continued existence. By violating them we doom ourselves and countless other life forms to a regretful and pitiful early demise. Highly intelligent beings able to travel to other galaxies know this. That is precisely why they have evolved to such a high degree of technology. Furthermore, it explains why they have not, and will not destroy us.

"As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace." - Pythagoras - 6th century BC

We as a species are suffering from a critical case of anthropocentrism. Defined word for word as: considering man to be the most significant entity in the universe. Talk about a conceited species, but this mentality is held by the majority of the roughly six billion people on this planet. This conceit leads us to a form of injustice known as speciesism. Just as the racist and sexist violates the needs and lives of other races or sex, the speciesist does the same. The racist believes the interests of his race to be superior to the interests of other races. The sexist believes the interests of his or her sex is superior to the interests of the other sex. The speciesist believes the interests of his species to be superior to the interests of all other species. The pattern is identical. All life prefers comfort over pain. Life over death. Often times however the most trivial of human desires is given priority literally over the life of another species.

Our most profound violation of life begins with our visit to the grocery store. Many products we purchase at our local store inevitably bankroll large scale commercial fishing operations. These operations are completely unsustainable ecologically, and are destroying life in gargantuan proportions. Included in their activities, shrimp trawling. Results in immeasurable amounts of destruction and waste bycatch and in Cousteau's words, "rapes" the ocean floor. Longlining. Target species include swordfish, tuna, and mahi mahi but bycatch includes sharks which are usually finned. This process involves the shark fins being hacked off and the mutilated shark which moments before moved so beautifully through the ocean being thrown back into the water alive as crucified trash. Purse-seine netting for tuna. Millions of dolphins and porpoise have died and hundreds of millions of tuna. Many of these species are now seriously endangered yet they continue to die from this fishing practice. "Dolphin Safe" tuna is a fallacy, and has led the unwitting public to believe the problem of dolphin slaughter is past. Not so, the real reason less dolphins are killed today is that there are less of them to kill. Driftnet fishing. Up to 50 mile long nets are used even though this is banned internationally. Enforcement however is practically nonexistent. Aquarium fish are regularly caught using Clorox or cyanide to stun the fish for easy capture. Often times the fish die from this poisoning as does the coral reef in the area. If you have not researched who supplies your local store, you are undoubtedly contributing to the profitability of the above industries, insuring their continuance.

"What were looking at here is a biological holocaust of unprecedented proportions." - Captain Paul Watson - BBC Interview 1992

We as consumers must take responsibility for the industries we support. We have reached the point where fish stocks around the globe have crashed or are on the verge of crashing. Even if it means giving up certain foods or hobbies, isn't it worth it? If not for ourselves for our children and grandchildren's sake.

"I have from an early age abjured form the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." - Leonardo da Vinci - From da Vinci's Notes

I have seen people time and time again ignore these facts because they prefer to selfishly indulge. Some defend their actions by claiming "they are only one person", or "its a complex issue", "I don't know enough about the issue". These are all forms of denial employed to allow the continuance of selfish habits. Either admit and proclaim your hypocrisy and apathy with pride or educate yourself and heed the warnings from Cousteau and countless others. As Cousteau stated, "The oceans are dying". I cringe every day when I confront the reality that people, including the vast majority of professional divers. Divers who see first hand the immense loss of life yet still prefer to eat a fish, rather than save the remaining few so they can survive and hopefully replenish in their natural state. I feel terrible frustration and anger over this. We in the diving industry shall have no defense whatsoever. We derive our incomes directly from the majesty of the oceans, while actively supporting the industries destroying it. And all this because we "like the taste." Shame on us. It is a clear fundamental choice between selfishness and denial or enlightenment and altruism.

"If human civilization is going to invade the waters of the earth, then let it be first of all to carry a message of respect - respect for all life." - Jacques Cousteau - The Whale: Mighty Monarch of the Sea

Say for instance that a technologically superior alien species wishes to expand their real estate holdings. They look at earth and see a dominant species (us) with little or no defense against them. Should they simply destroy us for their own desires? If they are to do as we do, they will. This is speciesism. Speciesism violates respect for all life and breeds injustice and destruction. As does racism and sexism.

"As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right." - Isaac Beshevis Singer - Enemies, A Love Story

Our anthropocentric and speciesist ways are at the core of our currently self destructive path. Throughout history our greatest thinkers have warned us of our ignorance and arrogance in believing this.

"A human being is part of the whole, called by us the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty..." - Albert Einstein - New York Post, Nov. 28th 1972

Going into the new millennium we must divorce ourselves of our primitive and destructive beliefs. Substantial progress can only be obtained with the strength of a compassionate and open mind.

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul." - Mark Twain

To my generation, "Generation X" as we have been so labeled, I challenge you to rethink all that you have previously held to be true. Let the X stand for the generation that destroyed the destructive beliefs of our past generations. The generation that shall pave the way into a better world for all people and all life. One that denies selfishness and greed and embraces justice for all. Let all of us who have known the pain of persecution channel our collective pain into a combined force of energy like no other. We can and will create a "new world order". An order that protects the current generation and the generations yet to be born.

The good news is we do have it within our means to control our future. We can indeed change the world, if we as a people desire to do so. This is what gives us hope.

"Never underestimate the ability of a small group of conscientious individuals to change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

"Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life."
Norman Cousins - Human Options

But first we must break the chains of our current line of thinking. Embrace all life and recognize the destroyers of life. This is where a strong will becomes necessary, a will with the ability to radically rethink our current system of beliefs. Only the strongest of people driven by an extraordinarily well developed conscious will lead us into this new era of human history.

"I hold today the same opinion I held then. The life of the lamb is no less precious then that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of the lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man."
Gandhi - An autobiography, the Story of My Experiments

Our first step must be to look deep within ourselves, to the core of our soul. As individuals we must asses our contributions to the world for which we live, both positive and negative. The fact is that nearly all of us are the destroyers of nature including myself to one degree or another. This is not a comfortable reality to face, but it is essential for us to look ourselves square in the face and acknowledge the truth. To do otherwise is to live in denial.

When the driftnetter sets his fifty mile long net and destroys countless life he cares nothing of our approval. It is our money that he wants. If we as a people buy his product, he will set his net again. This fact is more powerful than we currently acknowledge. We can literally shut down industries, or guarantee their success based on how we spend our money. Our task then becomes to spend our money the same way that we would cast a vote. To challenge ourselves to reach new levels of awareness. We can and will survive if we so desire. I am not naive about our chances but the possibility certainly exists that our ongoing environmental holocaust can be replaced with a harmonious natural evolution that would produce magnificent technologies, art, spirituality and an inner peace previously unknown. All this to be born out of our new and revolutionary reverence for all life.

"It is our duty to share and maintain life. Reverence concerning all life is the greatest commandment in its most elementary form. Or expressed in negative terms "Thou shalt not kill!"." - Dr. Albert Schweitzer - Reverence For Life