Eco Sphere

I’ve always wanted an ecosphere.  An ecosphere is a glass globe that has a perfectly balanced environment inside.  Algae and micro-organisms provide oxygen for shrimp, which eat the algae and Micro-organisms.  The algae survives by cleaning up after the shrimp.  They’re supposed to last for a few years given enough sunlight.  Why do I want a miniature globe?  Is it some kind of Lilliputian need to control the lives of primitive beings?  Maybe it’s a reverence for the environment and life’s unique interactions.

Probably a little of both.  I like to think that I lean more towards the reverence for life side.  It’s a serious question to ask yourself, and hard to be honest about.  If rules and morals held no sway and there were no consequences for my actions, how would I react?  How would I treat those shrimp?  I think I’d still feel bad if it rolled off the table one day.

Twilight Zone episodes have explored it, books have been written about it.  Religions have been founded upon the question of external morality.  One premise that we can find plenty of evidence for is that humans just aren’t advanced enough to control themselves.  Without an external force guiding us, we would turn on each other like animals.

Whether its original sin or an evolutionary trait, we’re saddled with an ingrained violent streak.  That wouldn’t be much of a problem if we didn’t live so close together.  Since we do, we have to find some way to get a grip on that violence.  Up to this point in history, religion has filled that role.  For 300 years, religion has had some serious competition in the form of the Intellectual Revolution.  Voltaire is my favorite author from the period.  The church chased him throughout Europe for his revolutionary ideas.  What did he have to say, besides ragging on the church?  As Candide said once “Tend your own garden.”  If you take care of what’s yours without injuring your neighbors, all that you want will come to you eventually.

Secular morality has come a long way.  The biting cynicism that Voltaire felt has spread, and religions are slowly fading from western culture.  It’s not something to lament or laude, its just something we have to deal with.  Unless a new great religion is founded in this century, we will most likely be left to our own devices as far as morality goes.  Do you think secular society is ready for the burden?  I think we’ll be ready when we need it… in the mean time, I’ll tend my own garden.

4 Responses to “Eco Sphere”

  1. Sonja Says:

    It’s funny you should mention an ecosphere! Bill and I were at a Brookstone store on Saturday and saw one just like the one you described – it was an egg shaped plastic container with water, some stones, two red shrimps and some algae in it. Amazing! I would have bought one but they were really expensive.

    Anyway, I think the world would be much better off without any kind of dogma or organized religion. If we could have “Sunday School” where kids learn basic rules of civilization like “love thy neighbor” and “hurt none and do what you will” we would all be healthier and happier. I agree that the majority of people are not evolved enough to self-govern, but remember we have been under the sway of organized religions up to this point. Perhaps a more down-to-the-point spirituality, bypassing all the fables and fillers, would be more effective in teaching morals. Cause and effect, actions and consequences would be part of the education.

    It’s a complex formula, but more compassion would be a key part of the one seeing his or herself as part of the whole; what happens to one happens to all. This may in turn cut down on poverty and crimes committed because of poverty and abuse.

    It sounds utopian, but it’s a start anyway. One thing is certain: organized religion is not the answer.

  2. Manuel Says:

    I always wanted an ecosphere, but they were always so damn expensive….

  3. Max Says:

    Very interesting. If I had an ecosphere, I’d probably have it for more anthropological reasons. So I’d have to have an ecosphere with sentient beings… which would be pretty expensive.

  4. snaffler Says:

    My little eco-sphere is 13 months old. The two shrimp are still swimming around. Brown algae is starting to take over from blue-green algae (a sign it is getting closer to expiring). I usually forget to look at it for months at a time, so engrossing it is not, after the initial wonderment.


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