And Everybody Else
Philosopher Jim Holt notes that there are 30,00 active genes in the human genome. Each has at least two variants. So the number of genetically distinct identities the genome can encode is at least 2 raised to the thirty-thousandth power – the number 1 followed by 10,000 zeros. That’s the number of potential people allowed by the structure of our DNA. If we liberally guesstimate that 100 billion of those potential human beings have been born since the emergence of our species, that means the fraction of genetically possible humans who have been born is less than 0.0000….000001 (insert about 9,979 extra zeroes in the gap). Such is the fantastic lottery that one had to win in order to shimmer onto the scene. This is contingency with a vengeance.
Given these statistics, the chance that you or I exist in our individual forms is so miniscule as to be unimaginable. To question why it happened to me or why I trot around in my utterly unique format is senseless . . . because that’s what unanswerable questions are. Or at least we’re not going to make much money kicking them around. So while surmising or philosophizing about the whys and wherefores of being might be an enjoyable, albeit futile, pastime for some, by my lights there is a more profitable enterprise: to be thankful for being and ask the vital and answerable question – how then shall I live?
Now there’s a dandy quest on which to embark. Living . . . living with purpose guided by a moral construct that makes life good-better-best for me and for everyone else. Said moral constructs originate from a variety of sources, but a common denominator linking them is the well-being of the planet and all of us who inhabit it . . . which, by the way, includes trees and hippopotamuses. If a value system guides one in any other direction, garbage it.
Public profession: 1) I am very glad to be here and strive to do those things which enhance my existence; 2) I truly believe that I am of no greater value or import than any other human being with whom I share existence; 3) I am convinced that my well-being is just a drop-in-the-bucket of the planet’s well-being, and that the two are intrinsically connected; 4) If I wish the folks upstream to be conscious of what they put in the river that affects me downstream, I need to be intentional and vigilant about what I put in the water that flows downstream from me.
As incredibly fortunate as I am to have come into being, life’s a hoot! It’s a gas! It’s joyful appreciation. So please, Randy, act like it.