Beginning With Fire
The Story of Addiction, Human Nature, and Evolution
Chapter Thirteen — Sobering Gaia
In this chapter we pan back, and view the entire earth — Gaia — as a superorganism. We humans tend to aggrandize ourselves, and talk about our assaults on the integrity of the present ecological balance as though we might be killing Gaia — making the earth uninhabitable for all life forms. This is an extravagant conceit. However, Gaia has gone through dramatic transitional stages, during which the ecological stasis has shifted radically, sometimes obliterating the vast majority of species living at a given time. Humans are presently on course to have an impact which may well rival some of these major extinction events.
Overall we can trace an evolutionary planet-wide trajectory toward higher levels of complexity; greater degrees of incorporation, of wholeness. Gaia’s current evolutionary experiment with self-conscious will, embodied conspicuously in the human species, is heading for an abrupt termination, unless humanity can achieve a critical shift in consciousness — can, in simple language, sober up. Using concepts and understandings developed in preceding chapters, this chapter traces the course of addictive progression in the Gaia superorganism, explores the concept of “hitting bottom” in a planetary/ecological context, and makes it clear that “sobriety” and “utopia” are not synonyms. Even in a best-case scenario, we have a rocky road ahead of us. Sobriety is about the qualities of character and spiritual well-being we bring to the journey; it is assuredly not about some guaranteed trouble-free happy ending.