They Once Ruled the Earth

Photo by Mike on

I have a friend whose precious little boy has a thing for watching soccer games and enjoying anything related to dinosaurs. He’s got dinosaur shirts, toys, books and games. He loves visiting museums that house dinosaur bones and replicas. At four years old he has more knowledge of dinosaurs than most adults. 

I suppose that dinosaurs have fascinated humans for centuries. It’s almost impossible to imagine how massive they were and what it was like when they roamed the earth. One of the greatest mysteries of all time is why they seemed to so suddenly disappear. I’ve heard all sorts of theories for what contributed to their demise. Some hypothesize that they might have developed some kind of virus or that a gigantic asteroid hit the earth causing a kind of cataclysm. Others suggest that there was a protracted drought or conversely a dramatic freeze. Whatever it was, they left forever but evidence that they were here has been found across the globe. I suppose that their ultimate extinction makes them even more fascinating

I often wonder if it would have been possible for dinosaurs and people to coexist. Of course the movie Jurassic Park makes that seem unlikely. Having those massive creatures around would most certainly have had a profound effect on our own evolution and development of civilization. How would we have kept them at bay given their often enormous sizes and, in some cases, violent natures? Even the fittest humans would have had to be quite innovative to survive around those creatures.

We tend to take our tenure on this earth for granted as though it is a given, and yet the story of the dinosaur demonstrates that even such grand specimens are not immune to extinction. Our advantage is our ability to think, but unfortunately we do not always use that special gift of brain power as well as we should. Our intelligence has made us seemingly the masters of the planet. We have a kind of dominion over all the other creatures. We have even learned how to tackle tiny microbes that create disease, but we have weaknesses that could lead us to the same kind fate as the dinosaurs. 

The state of the world as this moment is revealing many of the flaws of our human responses. We are often tribal when we should be united instead. We fall prey to ignorance, pettiness, jealousies that lead us to disagreements and violence. We often abuse our planet and each other without thinking much about the ultimate consequences of our actions. We are much more intricate, interesting and incredible than the dinosaurs with their tiny brains and inability to think about changing in order to survive. Still, we sometimes act as though we are not any more intelligent than the giant reptiles who succumbed to whatever disaster made them extinct. We have to realize that many of our destructive tendencies have the potential of destroying us. Luckily there are always seem to be enough humans thinking ahead to keep themselves and most of the rest of us alive and well on this planet, but we have to be willing to listen to what they have to say.

I’m not much of a scientist myself, but I have great regard for those who are. While we humans need our arts, our literature and our music, it is within the realm of science, medicine and engineering that we will find our way out of the challenges that are seemingly overtaking us. We will get past the current pandemic because of science. We will solve the problems of climate change with the knowledge and innovations of researchers and engineers. Those of us who are not on the forefront of inventiveness must help each cause with a willingness to change our ways as needed. If we simply lumber along obliviously eating and sleeping and not allowing our intellect to guide us, we are ultimately doomed as a species. If we keep wasting our energies fighting rather than working our way out of our troubles then the future looks dark and difficult.

We have a tendency to blame individuals for our woes when in truth we are the culprits who are undermining the efforts of those who have the knowledge to guide us away from harm. We’d rather quibble and boast than do the heavy lifting that our current situation requires. It’s easy to call a world famous virologist “Dr Doom” because he tells us truths about Covid-19 that we do not want to hear, but we are unwilling to do a simple thing like wearing a mask to protect ourselves and others. We will smoke and drink and desecrate our environment and then worry that the vaccines that have been developed to help us are putting poisons into our bodies. We waste our earth’s resources without thought of the future. We do not alway use the brains that have brought humankind this far, but when we look back through history it should be clear that our hubris has all too often led us to the brink of destruction.

Dinosaurs are our teachers. We my not ever know exactly what happened to them, but we do realize that it had to be bad. We must learn from them that life on this earth can be uncertain. The world changes and we must be swift and flexible enough to adapt. Wishing for the past, building fences around ourselves and ignoring the truth of data is not the answer. We have to do better than that.


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