For all practical purposes we are alone, we the 7.7 billion passengers aboard Starship Earth, as we ride this solar system through the cosmos. We have encountered no other travelers on the journey nor have any made their presence known to us. It is a daunting task, being the only self-conscious race in this fathomless universe.
From the perspective of human time it has been a long journey while in the context of universal time a mere blink of the eye. Without regard to the temporal disparity, we can only examine our interaction with eternity from the human viewpoint. From that aspect the most enduring characteristic of the human animal is impermanence.
Everyone born onto this planet, from the beginning of humankind until approximately 120 years ago have one thing in common, they have all died. And everyone currently scurrying about the surface of this big blue rock will eventually join them.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that while we are here we have choices. We can choose to be a force for good or we can choose evil. We can choose love or espouse hate. We can be happy and at peace or constantly quarreling and at war, one with the other.
Most who are reading these words are residents of the United States of America, a deeply divided nation. While we can only exert control over a tiny sliver of the events that will shape the history of this country we must never lose sight of the fact that we are all heirs to the collective choices made by our ancestors over many millennia and that the choices we make today will similarly shape the lives of those we leave behind.
A cursory examination of the history of mankind would indicate that at no time has our species ever been universally at peace. One might conclude that it just isn’t in our “nature” to get along with each other. I choose not to believe that to be true.
I do believe that there are no complicated answer to any of life’s problems, only complicated reasons to avoid the simple answers that are available. I believe in the truth of Occam’s Razor, that the simplest solution is usually the best solution.
I believe that it is way past time for us to teach our children that hate is not a family value, greed is not good, accusation is not guilt and that we are our brother’s keeper. An old Native American adage reminds us that everyone lives downstream from someone. While we cannot always control what our upstream neighbor does to us, we can control what we do to those living downstream. This is true both in space and in time.
We choose to live in an organized society. For such a society to function politics becomes a necessary evil. All political systems are composed of leaders and followers. In our system we have the opportunity to choose our leaders. While that is admirable it is also where the system seems to break down most often.
In order to have a better political system we must elect better people to office. In order to select better candidates we must first become better voters, that is to say, more informed voters. Apathetic or low information voters will destroy any democratic society.
While we cannot control where this journey aboard Starship Earth will take us, we can control the environment in which we choose to live during the trip and we can control the character and effectiveness of those we choose to give the power to steer the events that shape our individual lives.
Since we cannot jump ship we had darn well better make certain that only the best, brightest, most honest and most ethical ever gain and hold the awesome power that is entrusted to our leaders. 2022 will soon be here, be prepared.