The principle of self-destruction

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Humanity has created for itself a nightmare from which it can no longer break free.

After two primary atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humanity created a nightmare from which it can no longer escape. On the contrary, it has become a threatening reality of our life on this planet and the destruction of a large part of the life-system.

Much more destructive nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been created that can destroy our civilization and profoundly affect the living Earth. Even worse, we designed autonomous artificial intelligence. With its algorithm that combines billions of pieces of information collected from all countries, it can make decisions without us knowing. It may eventually, in a mad combination, as we have already pointed out before, penetrate into the arsenals of nuclear weapons or those of equal or greater lethal power and launch a total war of destruction of everything that exists, including itself. It is the principle of self-destruction. That is to say, it is in the hands of the human being to put an end to the visible life that we know (it is only 5% of the 95% are invisible microscopic lives). We have mastered death. And it can happen at any time.

An expression has already been created to name this new phase of human history, a true geological era: the “Anthropocene” means the human being as the great threat to the life-system and the Earth-system. The human being is the great Satan of the Earth, the one who can decimate himself and others, his fellows, as an antichrist, in addition to liquidating the foundations that sustain life.

The intensity of the lethal process is such that there is talk of the “necrocene” era. I mean, the era of mass production of death. We are already well into the sixth mass extinction. Now it is accelerated unstoppably, given the will to dominate nature and its mechanisms, the direct aggression against life and Gaia, the living Earth, due to unlimited growth, an absurd accumulation of material goods to the point of creating the Earth overload.

In other words, we have reached a point where the Earth is unable to replace the natural goods and services that were stolen from it and begins to show an advanced process of degeneration through tsunamis, typhoons, melting of the polar ice caps and the parmafrost, prolonged droughts and terrifying snowfalls and the emergence of bacteria and viruses that are difficult to control. Some of them like Covid-19 can lead to the death of millions of people.

Such events are Earth's reactions and even reprisals against the war we wage against it on all its fronts. This mass death occurs in nature, with thousands of living species that disappear permanently every year and also in human societies with millions suffering from hunger, thirst and all sorts of deadly diseases.

The general perception grows more and more that the situation of humanity is not sustainable. Continuing in this perverse logic, it builds a path towards our own grave. Let us give an example: in Brazil we live under the dictatorship of the ultraneoliberal economy with an extreme right-wing, violent and cruel policy towards the great poor majorities. people. Those who carried out the coup against President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 accept the recolonization of the country, made a vassal of the dominant power, the USA, condemned to be just an exporter of commodities and a minor and subordinate ally of the imperial project.

What is being done in Europe against refugees, rejecting their presence in Italy and England and even worse in Hungary and in very Catholic Poland, reaches levels of inhumanity of great cruelty. The measures taken by US President Donald Trump, taking children away from their immigrant parents and putting them in cages, denotes barbarism and the absence of any sense of humanity.

It has been said, “no human being is an island… so don't ask for whom the bell tolls. They bend for each one, for each one, for all humanity”. If great is the darkness that falls on our spirits, greater still are our yearnings for light. Let us not let the aforementioned dementia hold the last word. The greatest and last word that cries out in us and unites us with all of humanity is for solidarity and compassion for the victims, it is for peace and good sense in relations between peoples.

Tragedies give us the dimension of inhumanity of which we are capable. But they also allow the truly human that lives in us to surface, beyond differences in ethnicity, ideology and religion. This human in us means that together we take care of each other, together we cooperate, together we cry, together we dry our tears, together we pray, together we seek world social justice, together we build peace and together we renounce revenge and all kinds of violence. it's war.

The wisdom of the peoples and the voice of our heart testify to us: It is not a State that became a terrorist like the United States under the American President Bush that will defeat terrorism. Nor will the hatred of Latino immigrants spread by Trump bring peace. It is tireless dialogue, open negotiation and fair agreement that remove the foundations of any terrorism and found peace.

The tragedies that hit us in the depths of our hearts, particularly the viral pandemic that affected the entire planet, invite us to rethink the foundations of human coexistence in the new, planetary phase, and how to take care of our Common Home, the Earth, as requested by the Pope Francis in his encyclical on integral ecology, “On Care for our Common Home” (2015).

Time is urgent. This time there will be no plan B able to save us. We all have to save ourselves, as we form a community of Earth-Humanity destiny. For this we need to abolish the word "enemy". It is fear that creates the enemy. We exorcise fear when we make the distant a neighbor and the neighbor a brother and a sister. We drive away fear and the enemy when we begin to dialogue, to get to know each other, to accept each other, to respect each other, to love each other, in short, to take care of ourselves; take care of our ways of living together in peace, solidarity and justice; take care of our environment so that it is a whole environment, without destroying the habitats the viruses that come from animals or the arboroviruses that are found in forests, an environment in which it is possible to recognize the intrinsic value of each being; take care of our dear and generous Mother Earth.

If we take care of each other like brothers and sisters, the causes of fear disappear. No one needs to threaten anyone. We can walk our streets at night without fear of being mugged and robbed. This care will only be effective if it is supported by the necessary justice, by meeting the basic needs of the most vulnerable, if the State is present with health (the importance that the SUS showed in the face of Covid-19), with schools, with safety and with spaces for coexistence, culture and leisure.

Only in this way will we enjoy a peace that can be achieved when there is a minimum of general goodwill and a sense of solidarity and goodwill in human relations. This is the unavoidable desire of most humans. It is this lesson that the intrusion of Covid-19 is giving us and that we have to incorporate into our habits in post-coronavirus times.

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist and writer. your last book Covid-19: Mother Earth strikes back at humanity will be published by Editora Vozes later this year.

 

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