We Versus Us

A few people, on reading an earlier draft of this Cosmist Manifesto, remarked that they felt it represented a kind of unrealistic, idealistic, hippy-ish idealism.

"It's all very well to daydream about universal love and everyone becoming happier, healthier and more intelligent and cosmic in a post-Singularity, post-scarcity, post-selfishness cosmos," they said -- to paraphrase into my own words -- "but the reality is, the world is full of people who want to oppress us, bomb us, imprison us, take our goodies and so forth. The real problem is defending our right to a better future against the bad guys and the bad social structures -- not fantasizing about improbably positive futures!"

There is no denying the presence of oppressive, confrontational, dangerous forces in the human world today. And sometimes we must fight against them.

I hope Hugo de Garis's vision of an epic battle of "Terrans versus Cosmists" never comes to pass -- but I can't deny the possibility that some sort of violent conflict could one day erupt out of the dichotomy between
  • growth into the cosmos
  • stricter preservation of the traditional boundaries constituting humanity
This dilemma will almost surely be obsoleted in various ways, as time moves on -- but the path to obsoleting it might not entirely be pretty. Certainly, there are heavy shades of the "growth versus preservation" issue in various violent conflicts on the present geopolitical scene.

But difficult conflicts have been there all through the evolution of life, complexity and mind on Earth. The early mammals surely struggled mightily day by day, even though in the big picture they were obsoleting the old order and laying the basis for the creation of all manner of exciting new life and intelligence.

By focusing on the glorious positive possibilities of the future, one isn't denying the need to pay attention to the sometimes harsh realities of the present. But one is denying the wisdom of becoming overwhelmed and oppressed by present realities. Getting overwhelmed by present realities leads to problems like focusing on building weapons or crafting advertisements, rather than creating longevity therapies, building beneficial AI systems, or educating children.

We live in a region of reality in which the great Cosmist truths are hard to perceive sometimes -- but that doesn't diminish their relevance and importance. The challenge is to keep the deeper picture always in mind while also fully engaging with the (sometimes frustrating, sometimes terrifying, sometimes amazingly wonderful) realities of the corner of the cosmos that presently confines and defines us....

Ultimately, the good and bad aspects of the human reality we live in are different aspects of the same thing -- the same human nature, which is a particular manifestation of universal nature (a particular way of separating the Cosmos from itself!).

So it's never really "Us versus Them", it's always "We versus Us."

(Though it's necessary to quote Gogol Bordello here: "We know there is no us and them; but them they do not think the same.")

Coming to terms with the various conflicts between humans and other humans, is really a part of the process of human nature coming to terms with itself.

Which is part of the process of human nature growing beyond itself -- overcoming its separation from the remainder of the Cosmos that (like everything else) it manifests.

Onward and upward!!!

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