29. The Gaia Hypothesis Revisited. A Human Superorganism?
On p. 216 of The Mind of God, there is a discussion about the Gaia Hypothesis; the idea that the entire earth functions in many ways like a living organism. Later in the book, this concept is expanded upon to include the potential unification of humans into a “celestial” society. It is proposed that certain ancient societies may have accomplished their amazing feats, some of which defy a modern explanation, through a high degree of unity similar to that seen with insect communities. One author believes that just such a unification is occurring right now, largely unseen and unrecognized.
Author Paul Hawken has spent over 15 years giving talks about preserving the environment. After each talk he gave, it seemed that a small group of people would gather around to discuss current issues and exchange business cards. Over the years, Paul had collected thousands of business cards. Many of the cards represented a group or organization involved with important global issues such as poverty, peace, pollution, and human rights. He began to wonder how many of these organizations existed worldwide, and if there might be some type of movement at work. After considerable research, he discovered there are one to two million such entities representing tens of millions of people. This discovery led to additional research and a book titled, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming.(2)
Hawkin believes that this movement is unprecedented in human history. More like an unseen network than an organization, it is represented by the millions of well-meaning people that are functioning as individuals and within organizations of all sizes. Although these are all functioning independently, they are acting cohesively in terms of the ultimate goal. He describes that this movement acts very much like an immune response of a living organism to a perceived threat. In fact, the word immunity comes from the Latin im munis, meaning “to serve.”
In his book, The Web of Life, Fritjof Capra describes the immune response of the human body: “ The entire system looks much more like a network, more like the Internet than soldiers looting out for an enemy. Gradually, immunologists have been forced to shift their perception from an immune system to an immune network."(3) Capra notes that the immune system of our bodies seems orderly and precise, but in fact is not. Hawkin believes the vast social movement behaves in much the same way, the internet providing much of the interconnection. Kevin Kelly, author of Out of Control, notes that the internet contains a quintillion transistors, a trillion links, and one million E-mails per second.
One might ask, what is the threat this “immune movement” is responding to? Hawkin identifies those things that threaten our planet: war, hunger, disease, human rights, pollution, and the self-serving corporate and media “money machines.”(4)
1. Paul Hawkin, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into being and Why No One Saw It Coming (New York: Viking Penguin, 2007) p. 141
2. Ibid, p. 142
3. Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems. (New York: Anchor books, 1996) p. 279
4. Blessed Unrest, p. 144