What if your decision alone
determined the fate of humanity?
One night long ago -- back in the days when I was an 80-hour-per-week
hack journalist and living in snow country -- I had this strange dream.
This night was cold and clear and I was bundled up with my wife under
several quilts in a drafty farmhouse.
In my dream I was standing before a group of white apparitions that
appeared to be human and bore a faint resemblance to Snow White's Seven
Dwarfs. They were seated at a long table apparently waiting for my
testimony with an annoyed degree of impatience.
Dressed in a dark blue robe with a peaked hat and a broom, a
white-haired woman whose name my memory recalls now as
Bibbitybobbityboo blessed me with stardust from her magic wand and told
me that I would always work for my mother, because she was the real
vehicle that brought me into this world, and that I should strive to
maintain that awesomely lovely purpose in any and all endeavors I
Yet the white misty images of robed men seated behind the long table
covered by a white tablecloth seemed to snicker at her remarks, and
quickly began their own interrogation.
"You fancy yourself a young and intrepid explorer, ay?" one gnomelike
curmudgeon bellowed from the far end of the table. "Tell me then, what
would you do if you discovered that the collective life force of the
human species was a lethal menace to all other life in the universe,
and had to be extinguished in order to preserve the greater galactic
civilization? Which side would you choose, knowing that your species
could go instantly extinct upon the mere whimsy of your own addled
perceptions, and yours alone?"
Operating on the principle of never being afraid of something you
absolutely may not avoid, I responded: "First I'd ask to see the
evidence .... "
And with a teeth rattling roar a gigantic voice that sounded like Zeus
himself rumbled over the assembled fog scene.
"Because the human race, quivering in its own existential fear, has
betrayed its own consciousness by letting fear of the unknown
metastasize into a devil's chorus of diseased songs by which humans are
killing off all life on their own planet.
"And worse, from our point of view, this plague of fearful murderers is
already creeping outward into its own solar system. The infestation
must be stopped for the safety of many others."
Terrified, I instantly began to think, do I trust what I know? The
umpire in me asked: "How do I make this call?"
Why don't I trust what I know? Because I believe in double-checking,
checking back to see if important decisions have been right, and fixing
correctible errors. I've gained more from just that psychological
maneuver than any other thing in life. Be sure of what you're doing.
And every time I've checked back, I've corrected errors that I hadn't
previously realized were harming me.
But to decide the fate of humanity with a single yes-or-no answer
requires an examination much bigger than poor old nobody me can
calculate. That's why my secret weapon has always been to ask somebody
else for their opinion, because we can't live without the herd, and
besides the real beauty in our lives always derives from our love for
other people. Only certain types whom you know all too well spend their
lives doing nothing but taking.
But in this situation, the best I could do was recall from memory what
the masters taught me. I hoped to use the power of the world's classic
sources -- especially those which are not taught in schools (which
always try to blunt out independent thought with an acceptable retinue
of opinions which all support the positions of the well-monied status
quo which profits from the master/slave paradigm) -- to out argue these
heavenly heavies who I now confronted in my dream.
So I answered his question as best I could.
"Stand securely in your own truth, and be an example of hospitality and
judgment to others. Assuage the fear but don't forget to hear the
message. In this way you may perceive clearly and judge fairly. In this
way could humans yet become a shining example of fairness and
hospitality, a beacon of liberty and love that shone throughout our
solar system and beyond."
A huge wraith possessed of some kind of mechanical recording device (oh
wait, that was an eight-track boom box) snarled from the opposite end
of the table: "Don't be disingenuous with us, you glib fool! We're
talking about the human race, the one that slaughters itself and
everything else over and over and feasts on the gore. Vampirism is the
human religion, as you drink the blood of your savior and proudly
wallow in the waving flags that cover the bodies of your obliterated
children. Your vaunted United States of America develops plagues that
it sends to Africa to exterminate tribe after tribe, and now even these
same demons send diseases from airplanes over all the cities of
"The human species is now spreading deadly radioactivity in probes
exploring your solar system, and the Galactic Council has decided to
determine the fate of your world and your species based on the opinion
of a single human soul. Since you've made so much superficial noise
advocating a society based on peace, justice, and honesty, you're it!
"Time's up. What's the answer?"
It was, I reflected, like entering the bardo plane. First choice? Go to
the light. Everyone's automatically eligible. Everyone in the world has
a free pass to heaven the minute they check out. Of course that's not
what the priests tell you. If they did, they wouldn't have jobs.
But that reflexive step into the light is not as easy as you think,
because after a few years on this delightful earth plane you get
entangled with ties that even after death you can't let go of. I mean,
when you tell the perfect person that you'll love them forever, that
stands. That's, as a matter of fact, the strongest force in the
universe. Not even the power of a million suns can wipe that out.
A small, diplomatic voice from near the center of the table spoke
softly: "Humans have not learned the lesson that there is only one life
and it is shared by all, and each only for a time. The real reason you
pile up trinkets is that you hide behind your false belief that you are
immortal, when science has proven beyond all doubt that nothing is
immortal, not even the universe itself, which was likely calved from
yet another universe in the form of a white hole."
Pray all you want, I said silently. Nothing lasts forever, not even the
clumsy and diseased human perception of God. Then when your forever is
gone, you'll have a better view of all the people you're killing. It
might even horrify you, if you're human.
A tall white wraith with a menacing female voice interrupted
impatiently. "The point, fellow gentle spirits, is to determine whether
human life is an untenable threat to all other life in the universe,
and therefore must be exterminated as the primitive and thoughtless
vermin they are."
"It seems clear to all here assembled that the human failure to have
genuine faith in the goodness and fairness of the archetypal processes
of the universe has resulted in this twisted fear that death is some
mysterious place you must take magic potions and utter pious phrases to
avoid. The insanity is caused by trying to avoid something that nothing
in the universe can avoid."
At that point, I took control.
"Humans are animals frightened of their own shadows because they cannot
explain who they are or where they came from. It's almost if we stepped
out of a dream and into history, which -- don't forget -- all these
creatures are just metaphorical constructions of projections from our
"In the struggle for survival, savage reflexes are good. But what we
hoped to establish was a flowery sanctuary for our well being. That's
not what we have, because we deny we are hungry animals at a certain
point on the food chain. At the top, mostly."
Another voice spoke from the among the white apparitions at the table.
"So you're saying that for humans, justice is secondary to survival. It
is that way for all animals on planet Earth, in fact. So this is
exactly the same question we asked you: Once you know that humanity is
a pox to countless trillions of other beings, simply because of its
thoughtlessness wrapped in fearful symmetry, what alternative is there
to a functional eradication program."
"Then the only possible chance to save our species from the collective
wrath of all the higher civilizations in our region of our galaxy is to
consciously realize the effects we have on things we don't even know
about. And we can only do that with a philosophy that is truly
everything we should be: loving, discerning, and competent."
A misty white voice quickly answered:
"Precisely what humans have never done and seem incapable of doing.
You can't do that before you realize that all tribes, all nations, and all
worlds must seek peace, justice and honesty. Humans are known as a
species that squanders life because it is so afraid of death. They
clearly don't have the courage, realism or forthrightness to be
actualized members of greater galactic society. So the decision should
be easy for you. Pull the plug."
And there I stood, wanting to defend the human race but realizing there
was a larger, more important life force in the universe that was the
automatic owner of all our possessions and the creator of all we have
ever had. It saddens me to know we must throw away all this beautiful
potential as our human family on planet Earth continues its slide into
madness, disease, and extinction.
"You are the emissary," barked a voice from the table. "Time is short.
Tell them that."
"I promise I will," I said.