#19: The eremozoic age… age of loneliness.

***This is the nineteenth of a series of posts based on a book I’m reading for a class called Connections in Religious and Ecological Education entitled Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. The chapter is “Hippos Called My Name,” by David Radcliffe.

Recently, waves of information about the increasing homogenization of our world have been rolling into my consciousness. It seems as though every time I roll through my RSS feeds, pick up a newspaper, read a book, have a conversation, a new bit of information about how this world is getting less and less diverse bubbles to the surface.  A few months ago, I encountered an article about language diversity that made a shocking claim: many linguists predict that at least half of the world’s 6,000 or so languages will be dead or dying by the year 2050. Chinese, English, and Spanish will be spoken by a majority of human beings in only a few years.  Languages are becoming extinct at twice the rate of endangered mammals and four times the rate of endangered birds. If this trend continues, the world of the future could be dominated by a dozen or fewer languages.  80% of the fish species in the world’s oceans are on their way to extinction.  We’ve managed to homogenize our environments, making dry places drier and weather more extreme and erasing moderate zones.  Landscapes are, I dare say it, becoming simply less interesting, more uniform.  Food, farming, culture, diversity of all types seems to be simply… disappearing.  E.O. Wilson talks about the possibility that we are entering an age of loneliness, a time in our history when we, the human species, will look up and realize that despite the fact that we’ve managed to make pretty much everyone around us just like us (and by this, I do mean a certain kind of “us”…) we have accomplished something destructive.  Rather than being able to communicate more wonderfully and closely with each other and with our world, we’ll simply feel alone.  Similarity is not unity, and sameness is not health.  Diversity is the gift of being stimulated, of being challenged to grow, of being tightly knit into the fabric of an incredible planet where each organism or aspect of life brings a unique benefit to the whole.  I’m wondering about Babel.  We’re simply attempting, once again, to build that tower.  I’ve heard what happened last time.  I worry about what a second take will look like.  Though, I’m reminded of an important thing by Wilson, through David Radcliffe:  Whatever this looks like, however it happens, once again, “we will have done it all on our own, and conscious of what was happening.  God’s will is not to blame.”  The responsibility is ours.

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