Earth is a single cell in the body of something so vast we can’t even imagine it. All we can do is stutter the word, “God.”
Cells are subject to cancer and neurodegenerative disease so the nucleus takes action to protect its genetic material from attack. (I am way over my head here but it’s just a metaphor). It is unclear what humans are but our actions routinely endanger our own lives and the habitats that make life on this cell possible. We poison, degrade, blow up, erode, and cut down everything we encounter. So the nucleus sends viruses, lava, tidal waves, and earthquakes. Still the human infection seems impervious.
The cell (Earth) does not need humans to be healthy and thrive but humans need the cell in order to live. We simply do not act with the humility of our insignificance. Rather, we live life as if our comfort and health is the most important thing on Earth.
Putin and Russia are not unique, they are just the latest incarnation of our self-destructive urge to get more and more and more. The problem is nuclear weapons. They make ravenous hunger impossible to control.
I have mentioned before that I worked on a county hi-way department in which fighting was required. A fight breaking out was a routine part of the day. It was the way pecking orders were decided. Teams were temporary, somehow conceived and put together by the foreman far away from those of us who shoveled, drove dump trucks, or operated the big equipment. So the teams were constantly forming and reforming, and that required renewed discernment of who would be the alpha male. That almost always meant a fight of some kind.
There was one guy no one challenged. He was the Uber-alpha. He was not the biggest or even the strongest. He was the nastiest. He was merciless and without inhibition when it came to violence. Everyone knew — through stories whispered, the look in his eyes, and his routine threatening behavior — that if you fought him you had better be prepared to be as ruthless and violent as he would be. In that social order fairness, justice, and truth were subjugated to brute force.
That is what happens with nuclear weapons. You don’t have to have the most you just have to convince everyone you will use yours even if it means you die in the process. “Assured Mutual Destruction” — the doctrine that kept the Cold War cold — doesn’t work if someone wants it all or else. That seems to be the situation we are in with Putin.
Putin’s worldview is the logical conclusion of every human hunger: give it to me or else. Whether it is gas-powered vehicles, unsustainable mega-cities in the desert, or unrestrained chemical agriculture in the Finger Lakes, when we want something we do what it takes to get it.
You and I have no ability to influence or control the terrible things going on in Ukraine but we can take a sober look at ourselves and see if there is a Putin inside us that can and needs to be managed better. The health of the cell we live on depends upon how you and I live our lives too.