Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Our Beautiful Earth

A professor of astronomy gives us a blueprint of the universe to help us to better understand the paradox of what appears to be the sole existence of life (humanity) within an inconspicuous edge of what appears to be a lifeless immensity (the universe). Her reflections on our place within this universe, written up in the Kyeongyang magazine, is a reminder to all of us of a fact we tend to forget: we are not only inhabitants of the earth, but of the universe as well. 

To set the stage, she begins by asking and answering questions we all might have heard in grammar school. She has always been curious, she says, to know more about our planet, other planets and the universe, which prompted her to pursue her curiosity professionally, allowing her to delve more deeply into the subject; she asks us to join with her in this short meditation.

The sun, 49,600,000 km from the earth, is the star of our solar system, with its 8 planets, including the earth, orbiting, with their moons, this one star, our sun. The furthest planet from the sun is 30 times the distance of the earth from the sun, and within the solar system are also asteroids, meteoroids, and comets. Our solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy, a speck on the outer edge of the Galaxy.
She reminds herself, and ourselves, that we are one of billions of people on our earth, that our our sun is one star among billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and that this Galaxy is one among billions and billions of galaxies in the universe, our universe. 

Trying to imagine the distances that makeup such an enormous universe is just too difficult, impossible really; trying to do so makes her dizzy is the way she expresses it. We are a very small  presence in such a universe. When she is asked what she thinks about our earthly affairs, considering the vastness of the universe, she says, she can't help but wonder how ridiculous and pitiful are those who don't  have any qualms in achieving their goals, no matter the means used. Though knowing our smallness, only a speck, and not even a speck, in the universe, our presence here, paradoxically, she points out, is a noble presence.

Our present home, planet earth, is filled with all kinds of life, the only life we now know to exist in the universe. We are unique as humanity: we can make tools and use them--we are life with intelligence. This universe, and we ourselves, were made according to a blueprint of a creator and, by a natural  development, evolved into what we have become today. 
Whatever the  individual belief or scientific viewpoint one may have, one thing is certain: we all share the same global home, a vast universe, in which our collective presence--humanity and all life--in comparison, is infinitesimal but at the same time big with unlimited preciousness. Whether this planet continues to be a comfortable place in which to live or becomes a rudderless ark floating on the endless ocean of the universe will be, she says, for us to decide. How carefully will we take care of, and be concerned with, our humanity, our earth, our universe? Her fervent wish is that we will be more loving in our caring than we have been in the past.

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