Just a few days ago I was watching an excellent DVD, ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan, a renowned American Scientist, when it struck me how vast our universe is-only the known universe that is! In spite of all the scientific advances, we know a very little of it, and that too thru extrapolations and mathematical derivations. Because our telescopes are limited in their strengths, we can observe only a fraction of the universe, rest is mathematics and imagination. It was estimated that we have about a billion galaxies (mind you galaxies- not stars!) in the universe, just till about a month back. This estimate is now revised to a trillion galaxies! And each galaxy has millions of stars, and many millions of planets around them. Hold your head if you are feeling dizzy! You could also get just a feeling of what Infinite may mean! But only just!
So what is earth in comparison to this vast universe? The image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 spacecraft is a mere point of light, a crescent only 0.12 pixel in size. Carl Sagan describes it as a Pale Blue Dot. And how would you mention your address in this universe? May be something along the lines:
Galaxy: Milky Way
Our Solar System
Your country, city etc. etc.
And yet, how often do we think of the universe, our mind constantly occupied by our immediate neighborhood, and sometimes the countries around ours. How narrow is our vision! How limited is our perception of the reality! When we fight with others, it is for a miniscule part of the universe, not even as big as speck of dust. Almost invisible compared to the universe. In fact if we choose, we, the whole population of planet Earth, can have each a planet to ourselves, and many more of them. But then what would we do with that?
So we realize that we need people, we need company, we cannot live by ourselves. But our actions are just the opposite. We see less of an affinity within the humanity, and more of aloofness. The child is born with no identity, we give him/her a name-tag and that is the start of a long chain of baggage. He is most of the times taught of his proud legacy, remaining ever within a small circle. And as it grows into adult he goes thru educational institutions imparting knowledge that further reinforces his view of a very small world around him. And when he enters the working life his world shrinks further. The political leaders around him ensure that he is better off protecting his small world. So how can he, you and me ever know this limitless universe, this vast expanse, this staggering beauty and the abundance that we can tap into if we choose to?
We focus on the dangers, but only those we know of. What about all those natural calamities, which cause havoc? According to EM-DAT (The International Disaster Database) on average around 70,000 people die each year and over 200 million people get affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, cyclones etc. That is a huge number and a tragedy of enormous proportion. And what about the dangers lurking deep in the outer space, the Asteroids? On Feb. 15, 2013, a 65-foot-wide (20 meters) Asteroiddetonated in the skies over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, causing millions of dollars of damage and injuring 1,500 people. And it is scientifically possible that a much larger rock can hit earth and cause death and destruction beyond imagination. Should we not focus on these issues, which are of global concern? And we can do it only if we broaden our view, enlarge our circle.
But, sadly, we are ever dividing our tiny planet with all our energy, and protecting our individual tiny specks of earth till the last drop of our blood. That is becoming our full time business. While the nationalism is on the rise, universalism is almost non-existent. We are completely ignorant that the earth that we are occupying is a living, dynamic entity, a being with all the life forces. And we trample it as if a piece of dead wood.
So let us be aware that each of us is a strand in that giant web of universal network of forces. Everything we do, and not do, affects others, sometimes irreversibly. We all depend on each other. Humans cannot survive in isolation. Let us expand our borders, both physical and mental. As Carl Sagan says, ‘We have to save ourselves from ourselves’