E. O. Wilson was a naturalist, a biologist, a "modern-day Darwin" who died late in 2021 at the age of 92. He was also my biology professor during my freshman year at Harvard. I knew enough about his curriculum vitae to be awed by him, but not enough to truly appreciate his life-long study of the natural world and his campaign to educate the rest of us on the talents and abilities of other species. Though I was mostly taught by my TAs and only saw Wilson at lectures, I have followed his work over the years and been amazed by his prolific writing.
I noticed the quote below on the Facebook page of Parents for the Planet. It's enlightening and alarming and apt for the current moment. Though this wave of the pandemic has rendered Wilson's words even more appropriate (I can never remember the precise place or hour) I'm trying to focus on the knowledge that we will ultimately get through COVID, but we can not "get through" more years of willful ignorance regarding the consequences of our actions.
"Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life." (E.O. Wilson)
We lost many wonderful individuals in 2021, not least of which was this eloquent, studious man who did his best to wake us all up to an awareness of the natural world and the dangers of our "thrashing about". Perhaps we can all wake up to the beauties and challenges in our reality and appreciate "the mere fact of our existence" on this beautiful planet.