were afraid of the creatures which surrounded them.
As humans learned of their potential to modify
their environment, they believed that they were the masters of
those creatures. This attitude unleashed an assault on this
biosphere unlike any other in Earth's history, both in swiftness
and in breadth. Without regard for long-term consequences to
themselves and any affect on other species, humans have pursued the
notion of prosperity without understanding or concern about whether
or not the Earth could support it.
The third step towards understanding their place
in the Universe was the attitude that humans should protect those
innocent, defenseless creatures who are being inhumanely exploited.
After all, who will represent the best interests of these lives in
a human society? Protection of these and associated ecosystems and
the notion that all life was interconnected has contributed to a
movement, small when compared to the forces which are still driven
by the illusion of prosperity and greed, to change the way humans
affect the Earth. As the cycle of influence causes problems in
people's back yards, more humans join this movement. Yet a great
part of this attitude is still centered on how our actions affect
ourselves and future human generations.
The fourth wave of enlightenment has been the
realization that we were not always the most intelligent creatures
living on the Earth. Nor are we necessarily the only sentient
creatures living now. And we may not be the most intelligent
creatures in the future. We are members of the Earthtribe. We are
the members with the most influence on the Earth's ecosystems, but
we are not the most important members. No group of constituents is
more important than any other. Not because all life is part of a
fabulously intricate web of existence, but because no group has the
right to declare themselves more important based on their own
criteria. Humans have not found this attitude acceptable among
themselves in human society. Why should we imagine that it's
appropriate across species? It's not hard to consider how we'd feel
in the opposite situation where a vastly more intelligent,
star-faring species visits Earth and considers humans as expendable
as individuals or expendable as a species or good subjects for
their experimentation. Who gave them the right to judge our worth,
particularly in the scheme of their purposes?
Being the most intelligent species on Earth does
not mean that we have the right to satisfy all our needs and
desires. It means that we have the greatest capability to benefit
or destroy this world. The most intelligent species bears the
greatest responsibility of preserving the potential future of all
members of the Earthtribe.
William Dan Terry