Sunday, July 28, 2013
Our Shared Earthly Experience
Like me, you were probably thrilled to see the picture of Earth sent back from Saturn. Because it's such an enormous distance, and because the Earth looks smaller due to that, and because they didn't use a zoom lens, the Earth came out looking merely like a tiny blue dot.
Seeing the smallness of our planet, and realizing that all of us are together on it, has really made me think. Such philosophical questions as, "Why can't we do better as one common global human family?" Then I remember, it looks small, but it seems bigger when you're actually here ... and the craziness of people can't be entirely controlled. There's good and there's bad, and possibly a mixed group in the middle.
The good are all gathered on that dot. There's me and my family, always a people of self-aware virtue in both behavior and philosophy; we've got it going on. The world goes on with some regularity partly from this reservoir of virtue. The fact that there's not one killer hurricane after another... You get the idea.
Then there's the other good. Mostly little old ladies. How little old ladies ever got so good is a whole topic in itself. They had the childhood for it: a fascination with life, a rich imagination through books and quality toys, love for nature, a solid family life, a father with a stern mustache, regular meals (which they helped prepare), and they've always been serious but genial. There's also good little old men, but their "goodness" is mostly just because they've slowed down.
On the dot there's also the bad. You about have to assume that if you're not a little old lady or a slowed-down little old man that you're in this group, or close to it. These were the ones out waving and then wanting to spot themselves on the picture from Saturn. Very vain.
I actually had a very humble attitude about the picture, and was even a little fearful. I didn't want to look at first, because I was afraid my messy garage and shaggy half acre would stick out, dwarfing the sequoias. But even with a magnifying glass I could still just barely make them out.
There's a lot of people who agree that they're bad, without question. You've heard of Original Sin. They say it affects everyone, that is, everyone but little old ladies and the occasional old man. So I'm not saying anything that the world's great faiths haven't already verified. Still, even these folks see some need to qualify Original Sin's implications, meaning you can still be practically good or practically evil.
So I'm thinking more of the practical bad. Thieves, robbers, child molesters, cheats, speeders, scam artists, spammers, those who are late for appointments without giving 24 hours notice, those who make fingernail noises on chalkboards, Evil Samaritans, doping athletes, dog haters, irresponsible industrialists, Republicans in Congress, nitpickers, mass murderers, poachers, and guys who dress up in Sasquatch suits. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves! Please, next time they take a picture, stay inside!
[Cue the swelling, inspirational music:]
Our shared experience on this little dot, this planet Earth, is such that we need to make progress in the things of fundamental decency. No longer may our desires be selfish and completely out of control, with an constant push for bigger and better, regardless of the consequences for all. We must live like we're expecting a brighter tomorrow, because if we don't, tomorrow might not come. And I for one want to fall asleep tonight in a world that I want to wake up to tomorrow. Just like yesterday, only better.