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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Slowly Dawning Awareness

The Universe or Nothing

"Human history can be viewed as a slowly dawning awareness that we are members of a larger group. Initially our loyalties were to ourselves and our immediate family, next, to bands of wandering hunter-gatherers, then to tribes, small settlements, city-states, nations. We have broadened the circle of those we love. We have now organized what are modestly described as super-powers, which include groups of people from divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds working in some sense together — surely a humanizing and character building experience. If we are to survive, our loyalties must be broadened further, to include the whole human community, the entire planet Earth. Many of those who run the nations will find this idea unpleasant. They will fear the loss of power. We will hear much about treason and disloyalty. Rich nation-states will have to share their wealth with poor ones. But the choice, as H. G. Wells once said in a different context, is clearly the universe or nothing.”

Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan died in December, 1996, almost twenty-one years ago, but his message to humanity has now come squarely to the forefront. Yesterday, while the President of the United States met with Pope Francis, climate activists projected these words onto the dome of St. Peter's Basilica: Planet Earth First! I am still optimistic enough to think we are making progress toward working together. Temporary setbacks will occur, but over the next one hundred years, I truly believe humanity will make the leap—compassion over greed. We seem to be grinding slowly toward the end of our faith that all matters can be settled by warfare in which the strong prevail over the weak and that is the end of it. It doesn't hold true any more, because the weak have learned how to fight back effectively. Peace will come out of necessity. A case in point is the war between the Colombian government and the FARC rebels, which labored on for fifty-two years. It took four years to negotiate a peace treaty, but they did it—out of necessity.

Yesterday in Rome, Pope Francis' gift to the US President was a small medal with a dove and an olive branch on it. His message—it's time for peace. While we are mourning the senseless and horrific deaths of children in Manchester, UK, let us remember also that nearly half-million people died in Iraq between 2003 and 2011 as a direct result of warfare—including hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. It's time for peace. In Syria, and in several African countries, an entire generation of children is being wiped out by war and famine. It's time for peace. It's time for humanity to come together and declare a truce, share the wealth, and take care of one another. The choice is clear...the universe or nothing.

                                                            In the Spirit,


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