Human Reach

Pluto Image Credit: NASA/APL/SwRI

This week, we have hit the mark on the nine-year journey to research and photograph the last main celestial body in our solar system, Pluto.[1] We have discovered particles that have only existed in theory. We are extending our human reach from the infinitesimal to the extent of our multiverse as a species, even if we don’t know yet where we are heading or for what we are searching. We truly live in wonderful times.

And yet, with all of our advancements, we on Earth often times are still horrible as a species; we are flawed beings that are capable of doing many great, wonderful, terrible things. Over the course of the last six years alone, there have been countless stories around the world of brutal violence, hate crimes, and heinous acts. Racial divides, human inequality, religious ideals, and the need to survive push people to their worst. And although we have made some advancements in recent months to right those wrongs, we still have a long way to go.

Being our best and worst was really well encapsulated within Interstellar, which I happened to watch this week. The basic premise of the movie: the planet is dying, we are dying due to lack of food and climate changes, and there is a fight for our survival. In an effort to save the human race, a team is sent on a long journey to go find another home; the initial team was selected to represent us on this journey.[2] Not much is heard from the team, and a second team is sent in the same direction. In one of the many of the many climactic scenes of the movie, there is a conflict where one astronaut attacks another in an effort to save himself. Even in the vastness of space with the fate of the human race on the line, we were shown to be horrible to each other; we would choose ourselves and our own ideals rather than working together to survive.

Humans been this way for a long time. We’ve had thousands of years of hate, bigotry, and inequality. We kill in the name of our deities or ideals. We persecute those that are not the same as us with hatred and without due process. We hold back people from having basic human rights and needs because we fail to empathize with them. We make strides to overcome the wrongs in our past, but then in mere moments it can be taken away with cowardly acts of a select few. People dissent or raise up symbols of injustice against ideals that differ from our own because of what they personally think is right, and not what is right for the sake of all humanity. Being different makes us human: but living despite those differences makes us humane.

In Interstellar, there was discussion of a “more evolved being” that lived in the fifth dimension that is trying to help us. It was later revealed that the beings were our decedents reaching backward to help us find the right path.[3] We are all looking for something more than ourselves, whether that be a higher power or something greater than ourselves, even if we don’t know it; it is part of our human nature. Often times we just want to communicate with others and feel like we belong in this world. We seek out others to journey with us, to help us along our way, to stand with us as one people.

Whilst we are looking ever towards the heavens for the answers of our universe, my mind can’t help but wonder and hope that maybe some day we can look back at our past atrocities here on Earth, evolve, and help each other become better humans.

  1. It will always be a planet to me. ↩︎

  2. There is a common theme in the space exploration genre that sends the “best of us” as representation. ↩︎

  3. I know future me would love to go back and smack past or current me for some of the mistakes I’ve made. ↩︎