Biocivilization in the post-pandemic

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

The great challenge for the XNUMXst century is to build a civilization whose center is life

In the understanding of the great cosmologists who study the process of cosmogenesis and biogenesis, the culmination of this process does not occur in the human being. The great emergency is the Life in its immense diversity and what essentially belongs to it, which is the careful. Without the necessary care, no form of life will survive (cf. Boff, L., the necessary care, Voices, Petrópolis 2012).

It is imperative to emphasize: the culmination of the cosmogenic process does not occur in anthropocentrism, as if the human being were the center of everything and other beings would only gain meaning when ordered to him and his use and enjoyment. The greatest event in evolution is the irruption of life in all its forms, also in conscious and free human form.

The well-known California cosmologist Brian Swimme together with the anthropologist of cultures and theologian Thomas Berry states in his book The Universe Story (1999): “We are unable to free ourselves from the conviction that, as humans, we are the glory and crown of the Earth community and realize that we are, in fact, the most destructive and dangerous component of this community”. This finding points to the current generalized ecological crisis affecting the entire planet, Earth.

Biologists (Maturana, Wilson, de Duve, Capra, Prigogine) describe the conditions within which life emerged, starting from a high degree of complexity and when this complexity was out of balance, in a situation of chaos. But chaos is not just chaotic. It is also generative. It hides within itself new orders in gestation and several other complexities, among them human life.

Scientists avoid defining what life is. They realize that it represents the most surprising and mysterious emergence of the entire cosmogenic process. Trying to define life – recognized Max Plank – is trying to define ourselves, a reality that, ultimately, we do not know definitively what and who we are.

What we can safely say is that human life is a sub-chapter of the chapter of life. It is worth emphasizing: the centrality belongs to life. The physical-chemical and ecological infrastructure of evolution is ordered to it, which allowed for the immense diversity of lives and within them, human life, conscious, speaking and caring.

Furthermore, only 5% of life is visible, the remaining 95% is invisible, composing the universe of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that operate in the soil and subsoil, guaranteeing the conditions for the emergence and maintenance of fertility and vitality of Mother Earth.

There is an attempt to understand life as the self-organization of matter in a very high degree of interaction with the universe, with the immeasurable web of relations of everyone with everyone and with everything else that is emerging in all parts of the universe.

Cosmologists and biologists maintain: life appears as the supreme expression of the “Original Source of all being” or “That Being that makes all beings exist”, which for theology represents the metaphor, perhaps the most adequate, for God. God is all this and the world more. It is Mystery in its essence and it is also mystery for us. Life does not come from outside, but emerges from the core of the cosmogenic process when it reaches a very high degree of complexity.

The Nobel Prize in Biology, Christian de Duve, goes so far as to state that anywhere in the universe when such a level of complexity occurs, life emerges as a “cosmic imperative” (vital dust: life as cosmic imperative. Rio de Janeiro, 1997). In this sense, the universe would be full of life not only on Earth.

Life shows a sacred unity in the diversity of its manifestations, because all living beings carry the same basic genetic code which are the 20 amino acids and the four nitrogenous bases, which makes us all relatives and brothers and sisters of each other as affirms the Earth Charter and Laudato Si of Pope Francis. Each being has a value in itself.

Taking care of life, making life expand, entering into communion and synergy with the entire chain of life, celebrating life and gratefully welcoming the original Source of all life: this is the unique and specific mission and meaning of living for beings humans on Earth. It is not the chimpanzee, our closest primate, nor the horse or the hummingbird that fulfills this conscious mission, but it is the human being. That doesn't make him the center of everything. He is the expression of life, endowed with conscience, capable of capturing the whole, without ceasing to feel part of it. He remains Earth (Laudato Si, no. 2), not outside and above others, but among others and together with others as brother and sister within the great community of life. So he prefers to call the “environment” the Earth Charter.

This, the Earth, is understood as Gaia, a living super-organism that systemically organizes all the elements and factors to continue and reproduce itself as alive and generate the immense diversity of life. We humans emerged as the portion of Gaia that, at the most advanced moment of its evolution/complexification, began to feel, think, love, speak and worship. Then it burst into the evolutionary process when 99,99% everything was ready, the human being, male and female. In other words, the Earth did not need human beings to manage its immense biodiversity. On the contrary, she was the one who generated him as a greater expression of herself.

The centrality of life implies a biocivilization which, in turn, involves concretely ensuring the means of life for all living organisms and, in the case of human beings: food, health, work, housing, security, education and leisure. If we were to standardize for all of humanity the advances in technoscience that have already been achieved, we would have the means for everyone to enjoy the quality services that today only privileged and opulent sectors have access to.

In modernity, knowledge was understood as power (Francis Bacon) at the service of the domination of all other beings, including humans and the accumulation of material goods by individuals or groups to the exclusion of their peers, thus creating a world of inequalities , unfair and inhuman.

We postulate a power at the service of life and of the necessary changes required by life. Why not make a moratorium on research and invention in favor of the democratization of knowledge and inventions already accumulated by civilization to benefit all human beings, starting with the millions and millions deprived of humanity? There are many who suggest this measure, to be assumed by all and, among us, proposed by the economist-ecologist Ladislau Dowbor from PUC-SP.

While this does not happen, we will live in times of great barbarism and sacrifice of the life-system, whether in nature or in world human society.

This constitutes the great challenge for the 2,15st century, to build a civilization whose center is life. Economics and politics at the service of life in all its diversity. Either we choose this path or we can self-destruct, as we have already built the means to do so, or we can finally begin to create a truly just and fraternal society together with the entire community of life, aware of our place among other beings and of the unique mission of caring for and guarding the sacred inheritance received from the universe or from God (Gen XNUMX:XNUMX).

Addendum

The cosmic year, the universe, the Earth and the human being

Let's try to imagine that the 13.7 billion years, age of the universe, is a single year (apud Carl Sagan). We will see how throughout the months of this imaginary year all beings appeared until the last seconds of the last minute of the last day of the year. What is the place we occupy?

On January XNUMXst, the Big Bang occurred.

On the first of March the red stars appeared

On May 8, the Milky Way

On September 9, the Sun

On October 1st, Earth

On the 29th of October, life

On December 21st, the fish

On the 28th of December at 8.00 am, the mammals

On the 28th of December at 18,00 pm, the birds

On the 31st of December at 17.00:XNUMX pm, the pre-human ancestors were born

On the 31st of December at 22.00 hours, the primitive human being, anthropoid, enters the scene.

On the 31st of December at 23 hours, 58 minutes and 10 seconds, the sapiens man appeared.

On December 31st at 23.00:59 hours, 56 minutes and XNUMX seconds Jesus Christ was born.

On the 31st of December at 23.00:59 hours 59 minutes and XNUMX seconds Cabral arrived in Brazil.

On the 31st of December at 23:59 minutes and 59,54 seconds, the Independence of Brazil was celebrated.

On December 31st at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59.59 seconds we were born.

We are almost nothing. But no matter how small we are, it is through us, through our eyes, ears, intelligence that the Earth contemplates the height of the universe, your cosmic brothers and sisters. For this, all the elements during the entire process of evolution were articulated in such a way that life could emerge and we could be here and talk about it all. If there had been any small modification, the stars either would not have formed or, formed, would not have exploded and thus there would not have been the Sun, the Earth or the 20 amino acids and the four nitrogenous bases and we would not be here writing about these things.

For this reason, the well-known British physicist Freeman Dyson testifies: “The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe, somehow, must have known that we were on our way” ( 1979).

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist, philosopher and writer. Author, among other books, of Covid-19: Mother Earth strikes back at humanity(Voices, 2020).

 

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