Reaching For The Stars From Six Feet Below Ground

As if I didn’t have enough things of my own to worry about, I am finding myself caught up following the international news again. 

For a while there, I resisted the urge to be a regular spectator of the drama; and it’s almost always drama. That, with some subtly mixed in vested interest opinion is what you end up getting. 

However this ultimate reality show has been pulling me right back in. It seems the world is going to hell in a handbasket. We are in a desperate struggle to move forward and backward at the same time.

Further observation of this global reality drama only serves to strengthen my convictions that long periods of stability, law and order seem to produce a subconscious craving in society for the abnormal. 

These days it seems like we are getting our wish; war in Ukraine, the arms race between NATO and Russia, the China and India border conflict, Scottish vote for independence, Libya, Gaza, Syria, ISIS, and Ebola—which I admit has me concerned and following closely.

Following the international news usually leaves me with a feeling of powerlessness to affect important situations and a growing cynicism and suspicion. 

Those feelings and a growing awareness of how effectively people are controlled by the media; keeping fearful and willing to trade their freedom for provided security, has led me to stop taking in much of the corporate owned news. 

Through this revolutionary age of Internet journalism I now enjoy access to more of the facts and formulate my own opinions instead of getting opinions about the facts.

For the first time in more than a year, I thought I would watch some news. Sitting down, I passively consumed the programming that was being fed to me; Joan Rivers’s last phone call; “no!” I clicked the remote up a few times and stopped to watch some more.

This time I came upon a very concerned looking man in a suit with an obnoxious tie, in front of a vague electronic blue background. 

He was emphatically shouting at me about the current situation in Syria and Iraq, and referencing Obama’s speech regarding a military response to Isis. 

Displayed in a big box on the screen beside the man, Obama was speaking. It switched to show scenes of masked figures in flowing black robes, waving black flags and brandishing Kalashnikovs, alternating with another of a scene where a man in orange was kneeling next to another figure that was clutching a raised knife, followed next, by one where the man in black holding up a blurred object. 

These images produced in me their desired effect of fear, disgust, pessimism and outrage. Noticeably disturbed, I turned off the TV.

Sitting at my computer now, I browsed through some more news. An interesting article with a YouTube video sparked my interest. 

This time however, to my surprise, it was not bad news. I read a report that the European Space Agency’s spacecraft, named Rosetta, was fast approaching a comet, way out in deep space, after a ten-year journey of almost six billion km! If that was not enough of an impressive feat in itself, I learnt that this year, in 2014, the spacecraft is going to attempt to land a robot on the comet while it is moving at 55,000 km per hour. I am not making this up, check it for yourself.

I sat back in awe, my imagination on fire as I attempted to wrap my mind around the information I had just read. It was something that arose entirely beyond my veil of perception. 

As I sit here writing this I am trying to recall the rush of emotions that accompanied my understanding and the flash of clarity that followed. In an instant the lingering pessimism that had been plaguing me about humanity and our future after being reminded about Isis became instantly replaced by a profound feeling of hope and unbridled optimism.

How could the two groups of beings in each story even be from the same planet? If so, were they both from the year 2014? 

The contrast between these two extremes of human nature is so difficult to fathom. Both groups hold such diametrically opposed views on reality. 

One group is looking ahead in a triumph of human ingenuity to confidently embrace challenges, and expand our horizons, while the other, through incredible violence, oppression and bloodshed, attempts to revert to 632 AD.

We are reaching for the stars from six feet underground. If we have the potential to land robots on comets in deep space, then we must surely have it in us to figure out a way to achieve sustainable world peace and end suffering. I remain optimistic.