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5.05.2009

Earlier, I posted a quotation from Hugo's Les Miserables on the exploration of the human soul. I meant to add a note with it, but forgot. I wanted to confess something: I do not always see the epic nature of every human.

I listened to a video clip a while back of one of the TED talks from this year's conference hosted down the street from my house in the Long Beach Convention Center. I can't remember the name of the speaker or the title of his presentation, but he was talking about technological advances and how they will - within our lifetime - transform human society into a super-human society. In other words, we are not the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, we are not the point - there's more to come, and it's not us. He tried to reconcile his listeners to this thought with dry chastisement, calling it arrogant to believe that we are the reason for it all. That the evolutionary process would come to a standstill at the sight of us and cry 'eureka!'

It bothered me. Not the notion of superhumans. I mean, I've seen Terminator and the Matrix. We discussed cyborg theory in my 'Poor Things' class - reification, mechanization of the human, blah blah blah. It's not outside of my imaginative powers to see the next generation literally embodying the foreboding sci-fi novels of the fifties and sixties. Heck, it's happening right now. 'Cyberspace' was a hoakie made-up word by cyberpunk fiction writer William Gibson. Now, it's an alternate universe we take part in daily. Like, right now.

No, what bothered me wasn't his prediction of the future - which I am, admittedly, highly skeptical of - but the look on his face and the tone of his voice when he said 'isn't it a little arrogant to assume that all this evolutionary process was all for us? (my paraphrase)'. You see, I don't think there's anything arrogant about it. How is it possible to have any conviction, any standard whatsoever, of human rights and human dignity if you do not believe that we are essentially purposeful? That there is a reason for our presence beyond our place in the food chain. Why do we read Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness in school if not because we acknowledge some essential, underlying offense against that dignity, that sanctity, that purpose? Kurtz cried 'the horror! the horror!' because humanity had been defiled - and at his hands. We stare at the black gulf in our hearts and know it is black and gaping because it swallows all we were meant to be - holy, human, particular, true.

I think this speaker must not be married. He must not have any children or any friends. What of his mother and father? Surely he has never known anyone, including himself, very well. Because when you know someone, really know them, you cannot help but recognize the miraculous complexity, the beauty, of the human person. I said before that this is a confession. That I don't always see that in people. There are people I call common - and that is my arrogance. Or I call them simple. Or uneducated. Or not very deep. Or not very interesting. I ignore them. It is my laziness that fails to see the epic nature of every person, that fails to recognize that miracle that separates us from the animals: the breath of God.

This Grace does as much to distinguish us from our Creator as it does to unify us with him. It is his gift to us, his drawing-up. It comes not from within, but from without - or the without within. If I could, I would spend my life with one other. Any one. Take your pick. Watch me watch the one. I will not grow tired of it. If I have any amount of energy, any intention left in me, I will not grow weary; I will certainly not get bored. The person is a marvel.

1 comment:

  1. thank you, molly. what truth .. i miss it too. each human is created so intricately .. how easily we forget the wonder. i needed the reminder today.

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