Sixty years ago, President Kennedy declared, “We choose to go to the Moon,” engaging ordinary Americans with an extraordinary vision.
Thirty years ago, Voyager 1 captured an image of the Earth from four billion miles away that Carl Sagan named “the pale blue dot.”
The seed of a wonderful possibility began growing in human awareness, the promise of a beautiful unity that would include us all: humans, all Earth’s life forms, and the vastness of life throughout the cosmos. But today, that promise — the norm for all but humans — remains unfulfilled, as hateful polarization divides us and irrational abuse of Mother Earth now threatens our very survival.
But many of us cannot forget the vision and we refuse to abandon the promise even though, after decades of impotent idealism and exhausting activism, we’re confronted with our failure. The result of Mr. Fixit advocacy over decades? Things have gotten worse. We clever humans are now accelerating toward near-term extinction while banking on technology — the same technology that dehumanized us — to save us.
What now? More of the same? Or do we finally return to the only approach that has ever made sense? Personal responsibility. “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”
Gandhi urged us to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” and many of us nodded in agreement while continuing to fight for peace, pointing hateful fingers at others, oblivious to our raging hypocrisy.
It’s time to do what we’ve talked about and urged others to do, to actually live in peace (rather than just advocate for peace), first within ourselves and then with each other. It’s time to surrender our victimhood and stop waiting for someone to save us. It’s time, right now, to honor that grander promise by delivering on a personal one, to express only peace and love and compassion.
We experience what we express but it doesn’t end there. Peace within, transmitted throughout the ordinary moments of the day in thought, word and action, inspires others in powerful ways, unmatched by speeches and marches and lawsuits. We become visionary activists, transmitting a healthy virus that is highly contagious: peace.
Regardless of what anyone anywhere, near or far, is choosing to say or do, it’s always about me, it’s always about you, and when we become proactive and choose peace — defying the deeply habitual urge to strike back for justice — everything changes.
We see what’s really going on and realize how blind we’ve been to the obvious. We begin to understand that imagination yoked to human cleverness rather than nature’s holistic wisdom could only ever lead in the one direction it’s gone… to leave a mess on Earth and go wreck another planet. Mars, here we come!
The leavers want a new world to create entirely in their own image. They will terraform barren worlds and control them utterly. Earth? Yesterday’s planet, of value now as a lab to test world-forming and population-control technologies.
Meanwhile, some of us choose to be stewards and we’re sticking around to clean up the mess. Hopefully, we’re realizing that we’ll have to use a different kind of thinking than what we used to make the mess. We must start, continue, and end with 100% personal responsibility.
A new world is being born, quietly emerging from the compost of the old one. There are no headlines to announce it’s coming, but we know this truth in our hearts. It’s wonderful and shattering, the moment we fully realize that we must abandon our well intentioned efforts to “save the world” and all the pride that goes with that noble goal. The path of personal responsibility is a humble one and the only one that doesn’t end on the edge of a cliff.
Life on the pale blue dot … what a marvelous mystery. As Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” He was writing about now. This is the time, and the future world we leave for our grandchildren is being created by what we choose to do with our moments, these moments, starting with this one.
Will Wilkinson posts weekly blogs at www.noonclub.org. Email 600- to 700-word articles on all aspects of inner peace to Sally McKirgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.