How much can be said about life? Apparently a lot, because life actually exists, as an objective something-or-other, but very few people ever even think about it. A being is born, it grows, it dies. What else needs to be known?
My personal idea is, everything about life needs to be known. But let us spend a moment please to look at what we know. A sperm invades a egg, or pollen is somehow deposited on a pistil, or a cell splits in half after duplicating itself, or however a life comes into being on our plane of existence. All of these are biological processes. But we have already discussed how life seems to be something differing from biology alone. As the number of cells increases, as in multi-celled beings, DNA works to design what type of cell any particular cell should be: skin cells, blood cells, brain cells, etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile, in one-celled beings, it is not just the number of cells that increases, it is also the number of beings that increases. What does this sound like to you? Is the increase in cells that make up one-celled beings really any different from the increase in cells that make up a multi-celled being? Are we still not talking about creating cells? Are we still not talking about creating living beings? Are we still not talking about creating life? Of course we are, only, creating is a loaded word, thanks to some religions. But it is equally as loaded, from the other direction, thanks to the concept of evolution. This post, though, it not about the creation debate.
Evolution tells us, through the fossils that are found, that the only beings that inhabited the primal oceans of 4 billion years ago were one-celled beings. Each being had a life all its own. And each cell took care of all the life processes, finding energy to maintain life, and expelling useless leftovers. This is how one-celled beings still live today.
For millions of years life never changed. But something happened–I do not know what–and one being stayed tied to another being when it should have split off, and this was the start of evolution. Life discovered it could live better if two cells worked together. One cell could find food for both, while the second cell excreted waste for both. This was also the start of cooperation, and possibly even compassion. Each of the cells had a stake in keeping both cells alive, so it makes sense that at some point each cell learned to care about the other cell, and possibly even love each other. But now I am being anthropocentrtic, assigning human qualities to non-human beings. Or am I? Maybe I am being anti-anthropocentric. Maybe I am assigning cellular qualities to human beings. My question is, why shouldn’t I do that? Why shouln’t we feel love, or compassion, why shouldn’t we know how to share, given that these are things our cells are doing, and ultimately our cells are us.
What the hell am I talking about? Our cells are just biological bits of living matter, they aren’t living beings in their own right. Aren’t they? Weren’t they living beings 4 million years ago? How much have they changed in that length of time? Not much, really. They are still one-celled beings, just that now they are more specialized than they were then. More specialized does not mean that they are not still alive, they are, we know that, science shows us that. Please note, science is not telling us our cells are alive, they are showing us our cells are alive. We only need look through a microscope to see they are alive. But what does that mean to us?
Some mathematician has figured out our bodies contain about 37 trillion cells, using an average sized human adult body as its sample. I presume he or she measured the amount of space an average cell occupies, and how much it weighs, then compared that to how much space the sample body occupies, and how much the sample body weighs. Comparing weight to space, the result would be the average number of cells the sample body would contain.
But wait, that is not all there is to our bodies. There is more. Our bodies also contain other living beings, called bacteria. These beings are not attached to us, but live a symbiotic, or shared, relationship with us. We depend on each other to live. And guess how many of these living but separate beings are living inside our bodies, mainly working to help us be healthy humans. The answer, though I cannot tell you how this answer was arrived at, is approximstely 40 trillion beings. So, to make up our bodies, and keep them healthy, takes almost 80 trillion lives to give us one life. I won’t even try to figure out how many living beings it takes to make up the human population of earth, but if you are wondering, our present human population for the world is thought to be over 7 billion people, increasing by more than 1 million people every year. That’s a whole helluva lot of lives for the earth to support, and this is NOT even taking all the animal, plant, insect, and other types of beings alive on this planet. How many lives is that on our planet? How many lives in our universe? The mind boggles.
But, let’s bring this back to human lives for now, and look at things from a different angle. Our bodies work together to allow us to live. It takes, if you will allow me, all kinds of “races” of cells to function together to keep us alive. There are “skin” cells, “brain” cells, ” muscle” cells, “bood” cells, and so on to make one complete human being. These different types of cells, like different “races,” do not hate each other, they don’t fight each other, they cooperate, in order that everyone can live. Now, use a similar analogy to look at nations of cells. There are cells in the brain, and head. There are cells in the lungs snd chest. There are heart cells, stomach cells, leg cells, even finger and toe cells. How many other “nations” would you like to suggest? All these nations work together to help us live healthy and happy lives. I could go on, right down to individual cells, the people inside us… But I think you get the picture. To make us humans function as we should, individuals of all nations and races cooperate to allow us to live. Well, are we not the individuals of nations and races that inhabit this earth? Can we not learn from our own bodies how to work together, to share with each other, in order to make our world work.
Why are we always so at odds with each other that we are threatening to end our own existences when we could be working together to make our world function properly. Our bodies can teach us much, if only we would listen to them.