More than 500 people have seen the earth from space and 12 have walked on the moon.
Most of these people returned home strangely altered. Their families were the first to notice.
In 1987 this phenomenon got a name. “The overview effect” refers to what happens when a person sees, firsthand, the Earth as a tiny, fragile ball of life hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.
“National boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this pale blue dot becomes obvious.”
Indiana Beagle has been trying to tell me this for years. When I say something is unbelievable, he says,
“Unbelievable? You want to hear unbelievable? Seven billion of us are crammed on a tiny speck of dust circling an 11,000 degree fireball as it shoots through a limitless vacuum at 52 times the speed of a rifle bullet and no one ever thinks about it. THAT, my good wizard, is unbelievable.”
Indy opened last week’s rabbit hole with a short passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five in which Billy Pilgrim is talking to the Tralfamadorians:
“‘…As you know, I am from a planet that has been engaged in senseless slaughter since the beginning of time. I myself have seen the bodies of schoolgirls who were boiled alive in a water tower by my own countrymen, who were proud of fighting pure evil at the time….
Earthlings must be the terrors of the Universe! If other planets aren’t now in danger from Earth, they soon will be. So tell me the secret so I can take it back to Earth and save us all: How can a planet live in peace?’
Billy felt that he had spoken soaringly. He was baffled when he saw the Tralfamadorians close their little hands on their eyes. He knew from past experience what this meant: He was being stupid.”
I asked Indy how long it took him to find that passage after the psychopaths killed those innocent people in Paris.
He said, “I posted that quote in the rabbit hole five days before the attacks.”
Indy said, “David Farland, another science fiction writer, once wrote, ‘Men who believe themselves to be good, who do not search their own souls, often commit the worst atrocities. A man who sees himself as evil will restrain himself. It is only when we do evil in the belief that we do good that we pursue it wholeheartedly.'”
“Indy, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.”
He looked down and tried to change the subject. I wouldn’t let him. Finally, he looked back up at me and said, “The problem with ISIS is that they believe they are doing good. We must send each of them into space so they can get a new perspective.”
“But Indy!” I said, “Your plan isn’t workable. There aren’t enough rockets and there isn’t enough money and even if there was, how would we convince them to take the ride?”
His only answer was to put his paws over his eyes like a Tralfamadorian.
Roy H. Williams
“On one hand… but then on the other hand…”
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