Sophia and the Cattle Auction

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Quote of the Day

Life is Precious

- SolSeed Creed

Let's say I go to the store and buy a widget for a dollar. Was the widget worth a dollar? Obviously not. If it was worth a dollar to the store then they wouldn't have sold it to me for a dollar. Stores are about making a profit. They felt the widget was worth less than a dollar and so they were very happy to give it to me for a dollar. But here's the thing. I left the store whistling and happy. Why? Because I knew that the widget was worth more than a dollar. That is why I gladly paid a dollar for it. You think I am going to throw out my money after all the effort I went through to earn it.

So obviously value is relative. Something that is precious to me might be less precious to you and vice versa.

- Eric Saumur, | Bursting Through Boundaries; Episode 1; Life if Precious

Contemplation for the Day

Let us imagine

You are at an auction in a meadow on a warm sunny day. The entire audience is Sophia, the many bodied child goddess of wisdom. You are sitting in the back row. The auctioneer steps up onto the makeshift stage leading a cow. He begins his auction chant and Sophia’s begin raising their hands, “100 dollars, 110 do I hear, 120, 120, 130, 140..”

But behind you, you hear another auction. You turn around and see that behind you is the back row of audience to another auction facing the opposite direction. But this second auction is in a space station. You can see that the chairs are sitting on huge windows in a curved deck and through the windows below them, you can see the stars slowly rotating.

Their auctioneer also has a cow to sell but his patois is a bit different, “10 billion dollars, 10, do I hear 11, 11, 12, do I hear, 13, 13 to the child in white, 14, 15, do I hear 16?”

The Sophia behind you goes to raise her hand but the one beside you turns and grabs it, holding it down. “Are you crazy?” she says, “Why would you bid so much for a cow?”

“But it is alive.” The Behind-You Girls says, “So rare and awesome!”

“It is just a freaking cow!” The Beside-You Girl says.

The Meadow-Cow sells for $250 to a Sophia body in the front row of the meadow auction and the Space-Station Cow sells for $250 billion to a Sophia body near the back of the space station auction.

Now the Meadow-Auctioneer brings forward a canister of Helium, “Bidding starts at 10 billion dollars, 10, do I hear 11, 11, 12, do I hear 13? 13, 13 to the child in white, 14, 15, do I hear 16, 16…”

You glance behind again and the same canister of helium on the space station is not doing so well, “100 dollars, Do I have no bidders, 100 dollars, any takers, …”

The Beside-You Girl goes to raise her hand and the Behind-You Girl grabs it and keeps it down. “What are you doing, Helium is the second most common element in the universe. Don’t invest in that! It doesn’t even react with anything!”

The Beside-You Girl struggles to free her hand, “What are you talking about. Helium is so rare. You have to drill for miles just to get a little bit! It is so precious!”

The Meadow-Canister sells for $250 billion to a Sophia body near the back of the meadow auction and the Space-Station Canister sells for $250 to a Sophia body in the front row of the space station auction.

“Your all the same Goddess, “ you blurt out, “how can you pay such different amounts for the same thing? It doesn’t make sense!”

All the Sophia’s turn their hard cold blue stares at you. You actually feel hot from the focus of so many glowing blue eyes centering on you. They all speak together and though they are whispering it hits you like a shout, “I am Sophia; I am the personification of wisdom; Wisdom can be found everywhere, so I am everywhere. The value of something always depends on its place. Therefore, I contain many different but wise opinions about the value of any particular thing.” The auctioneers both leave, the auction is over.

“Well sure,” you fan yourself to try to cool down, “but if a cow goes for $250 billion, how could any normal person afford to eat one.”

“Is that all you can imagine doing with a cow, Just One, eating it?” Sophia responds again as one voice, but there seem to be fewer of them now.

A few remain in the Meadow and a few on the Space Station. You just blinked, and the others were gone. You didn’t see where they went but think it better not to ask. Instead, relieved that you are feeling cooler, you decide to respond to their question, “I have trouble imagining what I could do with one that would be worth $250 billion.” You notice that each Sophia has a number on the shoulder of her robe.

Sophia #2 from the Space Station speaks alone, “I plan to mix it’s manure with regolith and create soil on a barren planet.” Robots are clearing away the chairs on the space station making the auction area clear and open.

Sophia #7 from the Meadow responds with disdain, “We have been doing that for centuries on Earth and we never had the price go up to $250 billion.” Children riding elephants are clearing away the chairs in the meadow, the elephants picking them up with their trunks and carefully piling them on each other’s backs.

Sophia #5 from the Space Station yells back, “On Earth, you never understood the meaning of ‘Life is Precious!’” As the elephants leave the meadow they leave behind a path of churned mud.

Sophia #8 from the Meadow yells back, “We invented the phrase before you even existed! How can you even say such a stupid thing?” The elephants disappear behind some nearby trees.

You step off to the side to be out of the line of fire between the two arguing groups of Sophia’s. Sophia #9 from the Space Station replies haughtily, “Just because you invented it doesn’t mean you had a true understanding of it. You had an inkling but it took actually going to space to really see it. To see the Pale Blue Dot with your own eyes, or worse yet, not see it because it was too pale, too far away.” She ends with sadness in her voice. You look back at the space station and see that frost has clouded the windows. No longer can the stars be seen. The Sophia’s on the station are shivering and their breath is visible.

Sophia #3 from the Meadow responds echoing the other’s sadness, “Some of us have more than an inkling. Some of us see the Pale Blue Dot, or stretch our minds to try to understand the relative distances, the vastness of the cold, deadly, empty void and the thinness of the biosphere wrapped around the spec of dust that is the Earth.” A large potted orange tree on the deck of the space ship begins to wilt and a robot races over and blows hot air on it, waters it’s soil.

“But what relevance does space have to us?” Sophia 7 yells, “We have to live and the Earth gives us life. Nothing we do affects space and nothing that happens in space affects us.” A large meteor sweeps across the sky bright enough to be seen in daylight, it explodes with a flash still high in the sky.

“And because you are too lazy to imagine the universe around you, you just keep eating at the Earth like it is an infinite buffet.” 3 yells at 7, “You can’t step outside of yourself and see how precious and precarious Life is. If a tree doesn’t look pretty enough, why not just cut it down and toss it’s body into a land fill like it is garbage?!” The trail left by the meteor begins to fade. The Space Station is lost in a fog of mist. Only the two Sophia’s remain in the meadow, 3, and 7.

“We have to live!” 7 retorts, “We don’t have the technology that they will,” she indicates the space station, “we can’t just make everything right by snapping our fingers.” She snaps her fingers, and as she does the sonic boom from the meteor explosion hits deafening you. You feel yourself lifted off the ground and then thrown onto the deck of the space station. The two Sophia’s in the Meadow are standing back up and brushing the mud off their robes.

“You mean you are too lazy to develop the technology!” 3 yells back without missing a beat as pulls a long stalk of grass from the shoulder of her robe and tosses it at 7. You step back into the warmth of the meadow shivering.

“Oh, we will develop it!” 7 yells back, “Where do you think it will come from? It will come from people living their lives and doing their jobs and solving small problems one at a time. Often the problem will be how to make a more entertaining game or movie or website or a faster car or a more convenient home appliance and slowly each bit of technology will contribute to the next and then voila, your friends over there,“ She indicates the Sophia’s on the Space Station although none can be seen, “will head out into space to live.” Several more trees fall down and, at first, you think it is the aftermath of the shockwaves from the meteor but then you see the elephants and their child riders working in the forest. Your hearing begins to return and you can hear their chainsaws.

3 sweeps her hand over her head indicating the sky and the sunny day turns to a clear night. The stars fill the sky, the Milky Way glows with the light of billions of stars, “Look,“ 3 replies, “look and see the universe you live in.” Your eyes seem to be a billion km’s apart so that you can see how far away each individual star is. No longer does the sky look like a flat dome but instead a deep field with the Earth a tiny place in an immense cloud of stars. 3 sweeps her hands down, “Look and see the biosphere for the tiny fragile layer it is,” You ascend into the sky or the Earth shrinks beside you and you see the forest and meadow shrink down from your whole world, the matrix which you live in, to a thin layer of green painted in splotches onto the surface of the Earth.

7 sweeps her hands up you are returned down to the meadow and day, “Look and Listen” she cries, “and you will see that the Human Civilization is Complex and gets its resilience from the independence of its parts,” she sweeps her hands wide and it is day but your ears seem to be attuned so that they can hear quiet sounds, distant sounds and loud sounds all at the same time, “Listen to the work of 10 billion people,” and you hear the activities of all the people in the world and all the other organisms and machines too. You can understand how all their work adds up to something even as they work at cross purposes selfishly to survive and store resources for later, they also create resilience for the whole system. All those stored resources, all those redundant systems, all those independent actors, add up to a whole which doesn’t fall apart when disaster strikes and yet continues to grow in complexity.

As she continues to speak you notice that the elephants are gone and in their place the children are driving huge diesel-hydraulic machines, cutting through the forest at a ferocious rate. The children are barely paying attention to the machines they are riding; computers must be controlling them. The children leave the machines which continue to work autonomously. The children take out their smart phones and begin playing video games

The machines pass by and around where you and the Sophia’s and the children stand, paving the meadow as they go, leaving a little patch of grass between curbs in a vast parking lot. Behind them come waves of cars which each park for a while then drive away. Wave after wave of them. Gas guzzlers, then hybrids, then electric cars all driving and parking and driving again on the smooth pavement. The children jump into one car then another, always focussed on playing their video games.

The cars all scatter as something makes the pavement and the air rumble. The children, who have congregated again on the grass with you and the two Sophia’s, look up from their video games. A massive rocket rolls into sight riding an even more massive wheeled machine. A hydraulic support structure lifts it vertical so that it stands taller than any tree ever did. The children drop their phones and don space suits and climb the rocket like monkeys, opening a hatch near the top they all climb inside. The rocket ignites and lifts off and climbs into the sky with a terrifying roar.

3 and 7 whisper together, “We will learn to make that our way of life. We will learn to find Joy and Love in participating in the story of Life. It is a story of stories, little stories that add up to ever bigger stories even unto the Great Birthing.”

Music blares behind you and you turn around to find that the Space Station is warm once again and crowded with potted trees and children dancing. As they dance, they water the trees and collect seeds from them and package the seeds into little space probes and launch the proves through airlocks.

You reply, “I think I understand this.” Smiling as you watch someone approach the two Sophia’s from behind.

Gaia places a hand on each of the Sophia’s shoulders, “Wisdom is effective, It takes great wisdom just to imagine the Great Birthing.”

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