Extinction may be the only way to add a little excitement around here
The universe may be intent on seeing to it that human beings go the way of the dinosaurs. Its no fun factoring in extinction while making out your grocery list, vacation plans or saving for your childrens college education. It was the first thing I thought of back in 1968 when asked by a school guidance counselor, Where do you see yourself in ten or 15 years? In a childhood of bomb shelters, the Cuban missile crisis, the killing of Martin Luther King and two Kennedys, the Vietnam War, riots and Nixon, I was stumped. In such a mysterious, phenomenal universe it was hard enough to see myself where I saw myself on any given day, let alone in the future. In my crystal ball, I could barely even see that. It was a pretty far out place, growing up in the sixties.That ominous question seemed to be a seduction into Conformity 101, an ultimatum to become an accomplice in a capitalistic, materialistic society blindly following its leaders into the unknown and possibly, you guessed it, extinction. I could embark on the road to dominance and control over my life and the people and events that may stand in the way of achieving my goals, which was to commit to a plan, get a job, make a lot of money, get married, have a family and enough investments, life and health insurance so I would never have to worry about anything ever again. Or I could live in the real world.I made the right choice. Perhaps I was more forward-looking than my guidance counselor was when I was 18. I am proud to say I have contributed very little to the grossness of the national product and the causes of our potential annihilation as a life form.Excessive amounts of carbon dioxide have escaped into earths atmosphere in the past due to perfectly natural conditions, long before humans were around to blame. If we had been living in caves at the time it would have been disastrous, possibly the end of us.Some global warming models in use today (and all models have their flaws) to predict consequences and stimulate efforts to avoid what may be inevitable, show that extremely harmful conditions for life on earth could again, for whatever reason, reach catastrophic proportions as early as three generations from now. By 2075, if big, big changes arent made now in the way we live, it may be too late. We may enjoy the honor of extinction even if we abandon city life, become Boy Scouts and return to the earth. There is a very real possibility that many of us alive today will see the end of times, or at least so much depletion of the human population that the survivors will have to start all over from scratch, which would be a good thing. Certainly, many of our children yet to be born will not have much to look forward to, like actually working, and learning how to walk with their pants pulled down around their thighs with their boxers showing.This is actually very good news. The only reason extinction seems like such a negative prospect is because we all expect to see ourselves rich and famous in five or ten years and partying like rock stars indefinitely. Now we can look forward to anarchy, the return of the glamorous wild west and population control through survival of the fittest. Perhaps doomsday will find rival gangs arm-in-arm around the campfire singing Kumbaya instead of killing each other and every one else and looting everything in all the confusion. After all, if were gonna go, we might as well go in style. But I’m not holding my breath.There is, of course, the chance, however slim, that everything is going to be just fine, at least for a few hundred years or so. That means I would have to miss out on all the fun.I prefer the worse-case scenario. Life is great. I want it to go on forever. But I’d welcome some real excitement for a change. A break up of the same old routine would be good for the whole country. Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.
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