What kind of impression have you made?
I really question the “take only memories and leave only footprints” approach.
I agree that our thoughtless leavings, the trash we often leave unthinkingly in our wake (physically or spiritually), can do a lot of cumulative damage. Often our societal systems give us the illusion of being responsible, by effectively hiding the real impacts of our actions. Having trash picked up at the street, then only to have it barged out to sea and dumped, is far from responsible. Having police keep the homeless out of sight may be necessary to maintain the illusion of “market freedom”.
I applaud the sort of leavings that Audrey and Sandi wrote of, where conscious persistent effort has left their environment in a more life sustaining state than they found it.
It seems to me that part of the problem is the persistent illusion that nature is in some sort of grand balance, when the reality is far from that. Certainly cooperation has evolved at many different levels, and homoeostatic systems (systems that tend to push some parameter toward some sort of optimum level) have also evolved at many levels, and there are also many aspects of nature that are in a constant “arms race” at some level. Often these things happen at very different time-scales to our normal human existence, and thus can only be seen clearly after careful study.
So I am more of a persuasion to make such improvements as I reasonably can toward the ability of our environment to sustain both life and liberty (and generally speaking the higher the level of sapience the greater the value I give to both life and liberty).
So I tend to spend quite a bit of my time exploring largely unexplored “spaces” (in terms of paradigms, abstractions, technologies and systems), and bringing back such maps as I can to assist us all to explore whatever responsibly interests us (responsibility in this sense meaning respect for life and liberty, with an imperative to take such actions as we reasonably can to support life and liberty generally).
One of the greatest impressions is the fundamental uncertainty that is clearly present in reality, in our understanding of reality, and in logic itself (Kurt Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem, and the idea of infinities). So while we can become very confident of some things in some domains, we must each also accept that there are many domains that are uncertain to the point of randomness, and it is very dangerous indeed to become overconfident in such domains.
It seems to be true that all major advances in complexity of evolved systems are characterised by the emergence of new levels of cooperation, stabilised by attendant strategies that prevent cheating. We seem to be living in an age when awareness that cheating and deception have come to dominate our political and economic systems is growing exponentially, and with it a willingness to transcend the political and economic realities of our time, by the expression of cooperation and the conscious choice by individuals of freedom at all levels of existence (with responsibility, as above).
So for me, it is important to be making making small ripples of cooperation, constantly. Be it by carrying extra buckets of sand on the golf course and filling the divets of those who don’t do it themselves, or breaking off encroaching branches when hiking trails, or planting trees, or picking up other people’s rubbish, or working on new recycling technologies, or working to expand awareness of our impacts on waterways and water quality, or a host of other persistent conscious actions.
It seems that intellectual understanding is an important aspect of who we be, and it only makes a difference in reality if the understanding expresses as actions that actually make a measurable difference.
So I’m more of a pick up the rubbish, and make constant small improvements kinda guy – anywhere and everywhere in life.
And sometimes it takes some fairly harsh lessons to shock us out of established habits of action and thought, and to bring some distinctions to awareness.