Oct 9, 2008
"It's hard to appreciate the Earth when you're down right upon it because it's so huge. It gives you in an instant, just at a position 240,000 miles away from it, (an idea of) how insignificant we are, how fragile we are, and how fortunate we are to have a body that will allow us to enjoy the sky and the trees and the water ... It's something that many people take for granted when they're born and they grow up within the environment. But they don't realize what they have. And I didn't till I left it.''
-- Jim Lovell, Apollo 8 and 13.
Greeting Fellow Runners…
The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 384,403 km, that’s 238,857 miles. To put that into perspective, it’s exactly 2,462 miles or 3,961 km between New York and Los Angeles…so the moon is 156 times the distance away from the Earth as New York is to LA.
When the Apollo Astronauts went to the moon, they noticed a few things which probably should have been obvious and expected. First, the moon is dead; Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the lunar lander, looked around and gasped “Magnificent desolation”. He witnessed first hand that the moon is beautiful, but void of life.
The second thing the astronauts noticed when they looked back at the earth was that it was the only thing in the sky that had any color. It shone of deep blues, white wisps, dark greens and browns. The Earth was, in fact, a magnificent oasis of life.
The third thing the astronauts realized when they stood on the surface of the moon was that, if they lifted up their arm and stuck out their hand, holding it out to towards the little blue bubble that was hanging in the lunar sky, they could cover the entire Earth with their thumb.
Everyone who has ever lived was hidden behind that thumb. The entire history of the human civilization was hidden behind that thumb, every creature that had ever swam, crawled, slithered , hopped, walked, or flew had lived (or were living) their whole lives, hidden behind that thumb.
Wally Schirra, the astronaut who flew around the earth on Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions once said “I left Earth three times. I found no place else to go.”
Think about the profoundness of that statement. He found no place else to go because there IS no place else to go. Seen from space, this little blue bubble we run upon is our home and is very likely to be the only place in the entire Universe that we will ever be able to live.
I know that we’re talking about going to Mars and we can imagine a future where we terraform planets or create starships to take our descendents to extra-solar planets over the course of a millennium; but this one planet that we live upon is a precious bubble of life in space. It’s our home, it’s small, and we have to take care of it.
But today, I’m going to suggest that before we can take care of this little blue bubble that we first take care of each other.
Perspective might be the key to that.
I’m a science fiction fan. I love “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” and anything to do with space travels and alien encounters. I’ve often wondered what alien visitors to Earth would think as their spaceship got close and they saw this little blue bubble of life.
Wouldn’t they assume that all of the intelligent creatures of the indigenous civilizations on this planet lived in peace and harmony as a single tribe of the human species?
Wouldn’t they believe that conflicts would be rare on such a tiny world where global cooperation was the only logically sensible way for such creatures to co-exist.
Wouldn’t they expect that such creatures, born of the same species, evolved from the same ancestral lineage, and with essentially similar physical features…would live, love, share and care for each other throughout their short lives?
On this podcast, I’ve tried to make the point that if we’re going to live up to those expectations (and as the so called intelligent self aware species on this planet, I think we should probably make peace, love and understanding a common goal) and if that’s a noble and good goal, then it has to start somewhere.
Where’s it going to start? With religion? Maybe…but religious differences hasn’t been particularly effective with the whole “ensuring world peace thing” over the last thousand years.
I’m saying that as a devote practicing Roman Catholic…religion without the underlying foundation of tolerance, understanding, acceptance, charity and love for all of the people on this little blue bubble, no matter how they worship or what they believe…isn’t helpful to a world in desperate need of peace.
Will the goal of such peace start with governments? Ummm…I’m not very good with understanding the whole socio-political strategy of the modern world, but I’m pretty sure there are a few wars going on that started because “So and So said that So and So had weapons and the other guy called So and So part of the axis of evil…and…ahhh…my head it going to explode!!
No: world peace and the idea of a planet of creatures living together in harmony is not going to start with any of the traditional avenues of diplomacy, it has to start WITH US.
You are a runner. You are now running in a global event with friends from all over the world. We all have our differences, we all carry our baggage of fear and shame, anger and frustration with us…but that’s okay: that’s part of being human. The one thing I can say that we have going for us, as runners, is that we do not hate. Today we’re not individuals from other countries and cultures: today we are all runners: fellow runners.
It doesn’t matter what you look like, how you dress, or what you do in your spare time. Right now, this moment, you are out sharing an experience with other human beings who are feeling the same heart pounding exertion that you are feeling.
And it’s a good feeling, tiring, yes…but think about it: we are living our lives to the top as the good animals we were always meant to be…out here, we can imagine a world full of friends who believe in the ideals of love, joy and peace…out here we can afford to be a little idealistic and possibly naive…because we’re running a race that transcends borders, cultures and rules that have been set in place to keep us apart.
You are a runner; and when you live your life as part of a community where you have friends all over the world, as you do, you begin to appreciate each other more, you begin to see the world from each others eyes and perspectives.
If each of us, running across the Earth could imagine the view of our planet from the surface of the moon, or Mars or from the very edge of our solar system and beyond, we’d have to appreciate how precious this little blue bubble really is…and more importantly, how precious we are to each other.
You and I are fellow runners…and we set positive examples for every human being that lives on this little blue bubble in space…and when it comes to having a world full of healthy, happy, peaceful, kind, generous and thoughtful creatures…it all starts with us.
The song “New Prayer” was by Black
Download it for FREE at http://blacklabworld.com/marathon
Ambient music included in this episode came from Aaron English, Amb26 and Adhesion.