Oh, relax– this is not about US Supreme Court granting civil marriage right to gay couples. I’ll leave that hot debate to others. This is about the larger picture of humanity, gays and straights alike.
Way over a decade ago a public service ad (PSA) appeared on major Indonesian newspapers, featuring a long-nosed, goggled, slightly feathery, two-legged creature with a hint of gills on its limbs. Apparently it’s a scientifically-based drawing of what humans might eventually evolve into if we were to continue polluting and trashing the Earth. I can’t remember which NGO or world body that came up with the PSA, but I remembered the uproar that came afterwards. Climate change then was such a novelty idea that only a few had heard it, so the drawing came as a shock. Some suspected it as an overrated propaganda, most refused to believe its remote possibility.
Now The Walking Dead and Wayward Pines make weekly appearances in our living room, and aside from occasional getting up to the kitchen for another bag of snack, nobody has been getting up to protest such DNA ‘evolution’ of the humankind.
A pivotal twist compared to other zombie-themed shows, The Walking Dead shows how every human automatically turns into a zombie posthumously despite dying of the most natural causes that have nothing to do with being bitten by one (and no, even the mighty CDC in Atlanta can’t tell why, let alone cure it). Wayward Pines takes a literal leap of two millennia, as the show is set in 4028, to show that thanks to a DNA mutation of mere 0.5% humans have evolved into flesh-devouring, pack-hunting, humanoid predators stripped bare from any trace of humanity as we define it now. Humans changed the Earth, Earth responded by evolving, then humans evolved in return. A non-idyllic circle of life, at it.
Now, now, I’m not suggesting that we should confuse creative entertainment with scientific facts. But isn’t that funny, that in less than two decades both science and entertainment are nudging us to the notion that what we do not only harm where we are, but also who we are? Scriptures illustrate doomsday mostly in nature—erupting volcanoes, mega tsunami, fiery skies—but I’m more and more inclined to believe that doomsday will take place when humans are wiped off because of who we’ve become, while Mother Earth stands still waiting for the fresh batch of inhabitants. If it only took 0.12% of DNA mutation from now-extinct Homo Neanderthalensis to us Homo Sapiens, who’s to say that in time Homo Sapiens’s DNA wouldn’t mutate further and lead to its own extinction?
In all honesty, as a race we are yet to balance our constant hunger for advancements, or just plain hunger, with the Nature. Environmental talks on government level are sluggish, which means that a large percentage of bustling businesses aren’t pressured into eco-friendly practices. Fast fashion and handheld devices use up resources to churn out new products every full moon, most of which would be used shortly before being tossed into landfills—and that’s just two industries from the top of my head.
On the individual level, while awareness is spreading, attitudes aren’t yet much changed—perhaps because there are no sufficient incentives or penalties in place. We keep multiplying, because progenies are the most indelible marks we can leave on Earth. We keep turning on lights unnecessarily because we feel we can afford the electricity bills. Heck, I live in a pretty nice downtown high-rise with expats and well-heeled Jakartans, and I still find neighbors who can’t separate their garbage into the organic and non-organic dumpsters—light years away from separating papers, glasses, cans and actually recycling them.
Meanwhile, exotic new diseases keep sprouting—forget Ebola when you have MERS– and temperature keeps rising. If the on-going heatwave that has mortally claimed over 1,000 in Pakistan didn’t quite register with the first world, certainly London and Paris hitting this week 36.7C and 39.7C, respectively, grabbed headlines.
We pause for a moment, mourn the casualties, sign petition online, and then move on with our usual lives. In our gas-guzzling private vehicles (or, gasp, private planes!), sporting the latest resource-depleting knickknacks, and forgetting to yet bring our own damn grocery bag on the next trip to the plastic bags haven named supermarket.
“The problem isn’t real unless it affects us directly. Prioritize the present, what’s in front of us, otherwise just delay, delay, delay…” Wayward Pines said it best.
So, are we doomed? Are we not heeding the multiple warnings of our own deservedly demise? I’ll leave it to you to ponder with your most honest self. And if we meet later, either running away from brain-eating zombies or awakened in a cryogenic chamber a giant wall away from flesh-devouring humanoids, let’s compare notes. I promise not to pick your brain too much.