SETI stands for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. For over one hundred years now, people have been searching for signs that there are other intelligent life forms on other planets. As soon as we discovered that we could transmit information electronically across vast distances first via radio, then television and other means, we’ve wondered if other civilizations far, far away might be doing the same thing and, if so, whether we could listen in.
In the past hundred years our methods of searching the heavens for life similar to ourselves have become increasingly more sophisticated and far reaching. So far we haven’t turned up anything conclusive.
In the early 20th century it seemed entirely possible that our own solar system was teeming with other civilizations. The idea of canal-builders on Mars and warring medieval kingdoms on Venus seemed reasonable. But further study has shown that it’s highly improbable that any type of advanced civilization exists or has ever existed on any of the other planets orbiting our sun. We’re still not discounting the possibility that the oceans under the ice covered surfaces of some of Jupiter’s or Saturn’s moons might be full of weird alien fishes. But there’s probably nobody out there we can talk to.
Still, it’s not impossible that some kind of something we’d recognize as a civilization could exist in the far reaches of space. But if they do, why haven’t we seen any evidence?
There are a number of possibilities. Maybe the only civilizations using communication technologies we could detect are too far away. Maybe there are civilizations out there transmitting all kinds of stuff using technologies we haven’t even thought of. Perhaps the UFO people are right and they’re already here, their visits covered up by shady members of our own governments and men-in-black.
But there’s also another, more likely possibility. Maybe, even if life is common in the universe, what we’d call “intelligent life” is extremely rare. We already know it’s extremely rare on our own planet. The dinosaurs existed for hundreds of millions of years in every environment on the globe and still never produced anything smarter than a velociraptor. After the mammals took over, it was more than 70 million years before our ancestors started making stone tools and cave paintings.
The fact that we evolved at all seems to have been due to a lot of extraordinary luck. Humankind very nearly became extinct long before the first civilizations arose. And we have come very close to destroying ourselves with our own technologies a number of times in the past fifty years. There’s no reason to be confident we won’t find a way to wipe every trace of humanity off the Earth some time in the future.
Maybe that’s what happens to creatures like us. Maybe they evolve from time to time but always end up killing themselves before they can get very far. Or maybe the rise of a civilized society is even more rare of an event than we’ve dared to imagine. It is entirely possible that we are the only example in our galaxy, or in our galactic neighborhood, or even in the entire universe.
If that’s so, we are very important. Hell, even if that’s not the case, we are still very important. But let’s imagine for a moment that maybe we are the only self-aware life in the universe, or at least in our corner of the universe.
To me, that says we have a duty not to fuck it up. Not just a duty to our country or even our world, but a duty to the entire universe.
Donald Trump is not running for dogcatcher, or mayor of Palm Springs, or chancellor of pre-nuclear Germany. The stakes are much, much higher than they were in 1933.
I hate it when people rush to compare their political enemies to Hitler. It’s dumb when they say Obama is like Hitler, just as it was dumb when friends of mine said George W. Bush was like Hitler. But in the case of Donald Trump, the comparison is entirely accurate.
Adolf Hitler in charge of Germany seventy years ago started a war that killed millions. But humanity as a species was not in danger of extinction when Hitler was running around invading everybody. Trump in charge of the USA in 2017 could destroy the entire planet. In minutes. Not just that. Trump could destroy the only intelligent life form within billions and billions of miles, maybe the only intelligent life form in the entire universe. It’s a very real possibility.
So use your intelligence and try to prevent that from happening.
Thank you, America!
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Registration is now OPEN for our Spring Zen & Yoga Retreat March 18-20, 2016 at Mt. Baldy Zen Center, Mt. Baldy, California
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Check out my podcast with Pirooz Kalayeh, ONCE AGAIN ZEN!
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My publishers are running a contest on Goodreads to give away 2 copies of my new book!
March 5-6, 2016 Austin, Texas Austin Zen Center
March 9, 2016 El Paso, Texas Eloise Coffeeshop/Bar 7:00pm
March 18-20, 2016 Mt. Baldy, California SPRING ZEN & YOGA RETREAT
March 25, 2016 Venice, California Mystic Journey Bookstore 7:00pm
April 7, 2016 San Francisco, California Against The Stream
April 8, 2016 San Francisco, California San Francisco Zen Center
April 22, 2016 New York, New York Interdependence Project
April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”
June 2, 2016 Los Angeles, CA The Last Bookstore 7:00pm
September 9-11, 2016 Belfast, Northern Ireland 3-Day Retreat
September 16-17, 2016 Dublin, Ireland 3-Day Retreat
September 22-25, 2016 Hebden Bridge, England, 4-Day Retreat
September 27, 2016 – Wimbledon, London, England – Talk and Q&A
September 29-October 2, 2016 Helsinki, Finland, 4-Day Retreat
October 7, 2016 Berlin, Germany Zenlab
October 14, 2016 Munich, Germany, Lecture
October 15-16, 2016 Munich, Germany, 2-Day Retreat
October 23-28, 2016 Benediktushof Meditation Centrum (near Würzburg, Germany) 5-Day Retreat
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Beginners only!
Every Saturday at 10:00 am (NEW TIME!) there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. Beginners only!
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One of the main ways I make money when I’m not railing against Donald Trump is through your donations to this blog. I won’t get any of the recent Angel City Zen Center fundraiser money. I appreciate your on-going support!