From space, our differences disappear

Published 4:56 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019


Contributing columnist

According to the fascinating website, the current population of Earth is 7.7 billion humans. As of this writing, 266,841+ babies were born on this day and 112,000+ people have died. That is astonishing. Fun fact: China, India, and the U.S. are the three most populous countries.

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The vast majority of these 7.7 billion humans breathe exactly the same way. We humans (American humans, Mexican humans, Guatemalan humans, even the humans who live in “sh*thole countries”) breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.

What an incredible system we all share in sustaining life. Our hearts all beat with electric energy and pump the same blood through our arteries and veins. We all need food, water, sunshine and rest to stay healthy. When a French surgeon operates on a human from Ghana, the surgeon doesn’t have to take a special class to learn where the Ghanaians parts are. They are in the same place as almost all of the 7.7 billion other humans on our planet.

Astronauts have said that once they see the earth from space without our artificial, man-made borders, they realize how small and fragile this third rock from the sun truly is. From space, there isn’t a sense of why there is so much conflict, nor can that conflict be seen.

Why are we humans so intent on dividing and conquering?

I know many folks think I’m hippy-dippy in my thinking. When I was a high school band director, my focus was never on winning trophies, as my former students can attest. My focus was always on performing at the highest level, whatever that was for those students on that day.

I’ve run many half and full marathons, collecting finisher medals as a token of accomplishment. They are hanging in my office, not to remind me of finishing the races, but because they make a pretty cool wall hanging.

Winning at all costs makes no sense to me.

I was listening to a podcast earlier today, hosted by Father Richard Rohr. Rohr is a Franciscan friar who has an inclusive theology of spirituality. He said that one of the reasons there is so much turmoil in the Trump regime is because all Trump cares about is winning. Since he hires people with that same mentality, conflict is, and will continue to be, the hallmark of his administration. Everyone can’t win and Trump is always going to be on top of the pile, that is his world, no matter the collateral damage.

I’m not so naive as to think it’s best when no one wins and that everyone should get a participation trophy, hold hands and sing Kum-Ba-Yah. When there isn’t a strong, clear leader, boundaries become blurred and chaos ensues. But strong clear leaders look at the whole of their responsibilities to ensure healthy growth and progress is made.

Trump continues to draw lines to designate who he deems important enough to ensure his version of healthy growth and progress. He cultivates relationships with people who can help make him look successful and avoids those who he views as less than. He cozies up to repressive, authoritarian leaders like Putin, Jung-un, and Salman, whose idea of success is killing anyone who doesn’t agree or fall in line with their regime.

That’s grim. I don’t think we are there … yet. Trump did invite duly elected members of Congress to leave the country if they don’t like it here. There was a time when Congresspeople could speak out against a leader without being told to go back to their country and fix things there. The beautiful irony of that statement is that they ARE trying to fix things in their own country. He breathes as they breathe. His heart pumps blood through his veins and arteries as theirs do.

Trump doesn’t like anyone who gets in his way of winning. He certainly doesn’t like certain groups of people (immigrants of color, LGBTQ, women, anyone who isn’t rich, etc.) He lacks the capacity to understand that borders are man-made and WE ALL are humans who deserve respect and the best life our country affords for ALL. Maybe he needs to visit space.

“Houston, we have a problem.”Tom Hanks as Jim Swigert, Apollo 13, 1995

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.