By Lucy Diamond
WAKE UP HUMANITY!!! Still not connecting the dots!
WE can now celebrate our spacecraft, Voyager 1, leaving our solar system, passing through the heliosphere. (NOTE: If you have no idea what I just wrote about, you might start watching the tv show, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”) However, Voyager 1 is apparently carrying profoundly misleading information about humanity. Perhaps rising to the level of cosmic hypocrisy.
Voyager 1, humanity’s first spacecraft to reach inter-stellar space, is eleven billion miles away. It has been traveling for thirty-five years at a million miles a week. It carries an eight-track tape recorder, a gold record, along with a stylus with directions on how to play the record.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 had by 1979 reached Jupiter, taking photos of the Great Red Spot, showing it to be a hurricane. By1980, Voyager 1 passed by Saturn then zoomed from the plane of the solar system. By 1990, Voyager 1, six billion miles away, took photos of our entire solar system. Earth appeared as a tiny spot. Prof. Carl Sagan, NASA committee chair for the Voyager Golden Record project, remarked, “That (spot) is our home. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”
The gold record contains much information about Earth and who we humans are, sort of. According to our collectively built Wikipedia, the gold record includes: 116 images and natural sounds of surf, wind, thunder and animals such as the songs of birds and whales. There are musical selections from different cultures and eras such as Beethoven, Guan Pinghu, Mozart,Stravinsky, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry and Kesarbai Kerkar. There are also spoken greetings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from then President Jimmy Carterand U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. Adding to all of this, Carl Sagan remarked, “… the launching of this 'bottle' into the cosmic 'ocean' says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” It is hopeful Prof. Sagan, but is it true? What if someone sailing that cosmic ocean finds that bottle? What if that alien being decides to check out our little speck of cosmic real estate for “something hopeful about life on this planet?” If that alien is anything like us, I think it is going to feel ripped off, pissed off, cheated, if not frightened, disgusted, depressed and ready to flee.
It’s great to send a message of hope but our history indicates near hopelessness for our species. We have developed, at huge expense, multiple types of WMD –Weapons of Mass Destruction. Just check today’s headlines. Humans spend about $10 trillion a year on war. Recall WMD leading to the Iraq War? Who couldn’t name at least a half-dozen hot war zones on earth right now? How about crime in all of its sordid varieties? Oh yeah, and the lack of investment in our global problems of pollution and sustainable food, water, energy? “Something hopeful about life on this planet?”
So, Prof. Sagan, why did the gold record not contain information about OUR two great world wars of the twentieth century taking perhaps 75 million lives? Why was there no mention of the genocides committed throughout human history? Why nothing about our many civil wars when family turns against family? Why nothing about obesity epidemics while others starve? Why not news footage of civil rights riots? The shooting of little girls seeking an education? Who are WE really?
War is apparently not a part of the image WE, humans, want any alien intelligences or the Cosmos to know about us. Why not be honest and let the cosmos know what a frightened species humans are given our numerous, incompatible, rigid ideologies that allow us to torture and mass murder each other even while the fleeting ideologies themselves continuously mutate over their own brief histories?
Collectively, war has been our historical means of conflict resolution. From a cosmic point of view, perhaps even a God’s point of view, we want to see ourselves as peaceful, cooperative, creative, mutually supportive creatures. While we do not appear to be such beings given our history, our Voyager 1 cosmic aspirations do give hope to us earthly hypocrites.
I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that during the NASA meetings, no one even suggested or even thought that medieval torture, genocidal slaughter, atomic bombings of cities, the photographic records of mangled bodies at the mercy of massive machines of war should be included on the gold record. I suspect, Carl Sagan and the committee, with much sensitively unconsciously but diligently selected amongst the many sounds of nature, languages, cultural diversity, music and the like what would make for a beneficent portrait. They had a dream of humans dwelling upon a beautiful, water world in peaceful communities dedicated to mutual well-being. Nice dream.
A Year Without War will allow humanity for one year to not be the cosmic hypocrites that we obviously are presently. Let’s at least own who we are but relentlessly strive for who we obviously want to be in the BIG PICTURE. This is a grand and noble trait that all of humanity seems to share, seeing ourselves and telling the cosmos in gold, we are not warmongers bent upon our own suffering and destruction. We are curious, creative, collaborative and civilized. There is something hopeful about life on this planet. Now let’s prove it! JOIN, RECRUIT, EDUCATE to make the year 2020 a year without war.