It's a small thing

We live on a (roughly) spherical ball of rock floating in space. At this point in history, there isn't anyone who denies this. Every elementary school student is taught it, every adult knows it.
And yet, when people happen to be outside at night and see the stars, they still think of it as looking up, not out.

It's a small thing, but it points to something larger: how humans, as a species, live in two completely different worlds, the world we know and the world we live.

Another discrepancy: we know humans are animals, 98% similar to our nearest primate relative, but we still think of some magical divide between humans and animals, or that most of human behavior isn't as mechanically predictable as animal behavior. We have the same kinds of hormones, chemicals, impulses, and reactions, but somehow we think of ourselves as unique or different on some fundamental biological level.

Why is it important? Because these kinds of thoughts shape our realities. If we think of "the world" as everything there is, we then treat it as a closed system - limited resources, limited space. It becomes a zero-sum game, where every gain for one group has to come at a cost for someone else.

This model is patently false, though. The Earth isn't a closed system. Many resources may be limited here, but we can get them from other places as well. And, as such, it isn't a zero-sum game. It's possible for everyone to be fed, for everyone to be healthy, but it takes a shift away from what most people feel as reality to what everyone knows.

I've spent most of my life looking out at the stars. I know I'm a member of a vast galaxy, a piece of something that dwarfs the planet in the same way that the planet dwarfs a grain of sand. I look at the night sky and I can feel the depth: the distance to the moon is vast, but it's just another ocean to cross, like mankind has done so often before. We have the potential to do so much, but we, as a species, need to see what's really there and not what's in our heads.

It's a small thing, but it's time to start looking out, not up.

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