The Clearest Evidence of Lack of Sapience
This day represents what, for me, is the clearest evidence that the human species as currently constituted lacks sufficient sapience to manage its own cleverness. This day, in 1945, the Americans, ostensibly the good guys in WWII(!), dropped the atomic bomb on a civilian population in Hiroshima, Japan just to show them we meant business. Two days later, one demonstration not being enough, we dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. That should show them.
We were clever enough to figure out how to split the atom and do so in an explosive device. But we were completely without wisdom in doing so. And by 'we' I mean all of humanity. Yes I know that there are many who believed that the wisest course of action, at that time, was to drop the bombs. It was "conventional wisdom" that doing so ended the war sooner and saved American lives. And conventional wisdom is just that - conventional. It is what the masses think. Unfortunately the masses are deeply foolish.
Homo sapiens was the first species to display a radically higher level of judgment, moral motivations, eusociality, language, and abstract symbolic reasoning. But even so it was not the epitome of sapience. I have often suggested that the truer species name should be 'calidus' (clever) or even 'pseudo-sapiens'. But the latter is not quite right since the capabilities listed are related to the brain capacity of sapience. So, what humans possess isn't 'false' sapience, it is just 'weak' sapience. It is too new a capacity to have been honed by evolution for its role in modulating cleverness.
The evidence has certainly mounted over the years. Now here we stand having painted ourselves into an energy corner and seriously modified the atmosphere, hydrosphere, soils, and biosphere to our own detriment (along with that of many, many of our fellow passengers on Space Ship Earth). What remains really remarkable to me is that we actually knew enough early on to have prevented or very much lessened the current crisis. In WWII we were wildly ignorant of so many aspects of atomic power, including the political evolution that ensued. We rushed in, propelled by war (another piece of clear evidence) where wise men would have feared to tread. The precautionary principle applied equally to then and the recent events. But this situation is worse because we have actually gathered sufficient scientific information about the consequences that we should have known better. And, to a large extent we did, and do, know better. But because our collective judgment puts money over all, we ignore our own knowledge.
Each Aug. 6th I remember Hiroshima and what it represents, not as an historical event, but as a window into the nature of humans as we are. I remain ever hopeful that our species can provide the seeds of a much more sapient species in the future. The current one is no longer fit for the environment it has created.