Not long ago NASA made their big announcement about Pluto. I was happy for all the people who worked so hard on the project, but “happy with a small h”.
You see, I don’t need NASA to “prove” there is life elsewhere in the universe. I’ve come to understand that long ago through a couple of simple truths. One is that the universe is undeniably infinite and the other is that Earth is alive. From there the realization comes easily . . . life exists everywhere around us – everywhere – though so far away.
The Teacher and the Teaching
In the past ten years I’ve learned a lot and seen a lot, including this remarkable cloud that kind of parked itself between me and the sun. I stopped my bike ride to just gaze up and watch it. The cloud was in the shape of Africa, and it was a better rendition than I could possibly draw. After maybe 5 minutes of being still it slowly drifted away, but oddly intact – it’s shape didn’t change as the light of the sun came out over the top.
I mention Africa because many years ago I read about a pre-Christian sub-Saharan culture that had an intimate understanding that Earth is alive, that it had a birth, and that eventually it will die. That’s pretty profound when you think about, especially in the context of understanding this without all the bells and whistles. Nature can be a very precious teacher . . . so I wonder about what that relationship was, way back then, that led to such wonderful wisdom? It must have been very special.
Those Darn Words
Now here’s the stickler about those things we call words. I must have seen at least half a dozen news clips about the NASA news and each time the excitement was about “discovering another planet that supports life”. They could have said, “it may be another planet that’s alive”, but they didn’t. And it is very much a cultural thing.
Today it took a music artist from the states to remind of all this – Azealia Banks – her thing is hip hop. I watched her do a highly charged radio interview some of it really got to me. First there was her anger and frustration at the current and ongoing racial degradation. Then there was her genuine and tearful dismay at what she sees as a further loss of memory of all that was the Africa of long ago.
You may think all this is weird, coming from a white guy from a Polish background, living in Canada. Maybe so, can’t figure that out myself, but I’ve long ago given up on asking myself “why?” about pretty much everything. Finally, it’s not really weird at all if you strip away all those labels . . . they really do seem dangerous.
We have so much to do before celebrating Pluto too much, given how we can make the fruit here on Earth so very bitter. NASA can’t help in that endeavor.