Facing a Post-human Earth

Image Source: The Guardian

What would be the world like if there are no humans? Can we imagine a world without humans? Has the world been human-centric? Maybe we have to put the human world or rather human worlds under erasure. Even if humans were to be extinct, we will still have a world marked by humans. There will be traces of human presence in such a world. But who will care for these human footprints in a world without humans? We have seen several ruins of lost civilizations. These ruins and archaeological sites do tell something special about the absence of humans. They manifest that these zones without humans are reclaimed by nature. Trees, grass, animals, sand, water etc., reclaim their world in the absence of humans.

Such a world without humans might be called wild by us. But it does raise several questions that deconstruct several of our assumptions about human life on earth. A world without humans is a world that is not an empty signifier. It has a meaning of its own. The meaning may deconstruct our habitual anthropocentric thinking. Anthropocentric thinking is imperial thinking. It makes us think that everything in the world exists for the sake of humans. Is it really so? Did the world/ the earth live without its human family? What was that world like where there were no humans? It was the meaningless arid matter that we cannot decode? We can certainly decode the world that was without humans on the pre-human earth. It may give us an insight into what will be the world be if humans stopped existing. The world certainly flourished without humans. It in fact brought and nurtured humans.

While there is no dearth of theories that proclaim the doomsday for Humans, the global pandemic that is afflicting us opens our minds to several of our vulnerabilities. This is why it has become plausible to imagine post-human earth. This reflection of days before humans and days after humans can humble us. The post-human earth or pre-human earth are not meaningless empty signifiers. Such a world is intensely meaningful and profoundly educative. It is certainly not a wild world without humans. It is a world where nature flourishes to abundance. This word without humans will heal the world that is threatened by global warming and climate change. The world without humans will make its way like water make its way to abundance.

This obviously raises the question: do humans destroy the self-healing ability of the earth? It may be true that a world without humans be good for the earth and the non-human others. It would be a world without pollution, massive ecocides, tragic wars and other destructions. It would be a world of abundance and fullness. Earth will always celebrate springtime at that time. unfortunately, it appears that such a paradise can paradoxically come without humans. Human time is counted. The earth is getting ready to be without us. Has human presence on the earth have become a disaster to the earth and the non-human others? The answer seems to be a resounding yes. More and more climate scientists indicate that we are going to an age that they call Anthropocene and see it as destructive to our common home. The truth is that we have been unbuilding our common home for a long time. Hence, the survival chances for humanity are slim. This is why we have to become shepherds of the earth. Otherwise, we stand a real danger of disappearing from the face of the earth.

We have the challenge to learn to share the earth with non-human others. The life of exclusion of the non-human other that we have chosen to live is leading the earth to exclude us and flourish. We have to cut the branch that we are sitting on and are in danger of daggling down. We cannot live our life of exclusion anymore. We have to come to earth-like ethics that nurtures every non-human. This means we have to give up a closed world. We have closed ourselves from the earth and the non-human others. We have imperialised the world and the non-human others. It is now time to come to open ourselves to the world of abundance and flourishing. Maybe we have the challenge to expand the horizon of the commandment of love.

We do have to deconstruct the conceptual boundaries of a closed world and open up possibilities that appear impossible for now. To come to this stage we do have to overcome what Derrida calls the metaphysics of presence. We are actually facing the consequences of this metaphysic of presence. Our slavery to it is driving our very presence from the face of the earth. Time is fast running out. We are fast sliding towards our own annihilation. Therefore instead of unbuilding our common home, we have to learn to share our common home with non-human others.

We have to quickly find ethics that will enable us to give us possibilities to share the earth communally with non-human others. It is time to actualize Isiah 11: 6 which says, ‘ the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid; the calf and young lion will browse together with a little child to guide them.’ We need therefore a life of care in our common home. Such ethics will raise the question: who are we? We are not certainly the centre of the world. We certainly have to see who we are from the point of our relationship with the non-human other. The earth gives fully and abundantly to humans and non-human others. We have the challenge to embrace and imitate what we may call earth ethics. The earth ethics is like the divine who gives and gives without any count. Humans have the tendency to give to take. We have the challenge to do the impossible: give, give and give. We can enjoy this pouring of abundance. It is only through this life lived in abundance by sharing the earth happily with our non-human others that we can truly live happily ever after.

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