Mankind: Step Back, Gain Clarity

By stepping back 20,000 miles, our participation on Earth gains clarity. We see no borders to defend, no political districts to win, no homes to secure. Our manmade containers blend back into our planet’s resources. We see the sun warming Earth’s cold surface, lush forests fading into desolate deserts, prairies peacefully lifting into majestic mountains.

From the human’s perspective, we see signs explaining religious rhetoric, political rallies, state boundaries and private property. Bombs and bullets are tearing into villages. Law enforcement officers are chasing would-be migrants. Rush-hour commuters are tucked in mobile cages, hamming on horns. Activists are colliding between moral convictions.

“For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side,” warns the Bible (Luke 19:43). Ironically, people are readily accepting the barriers that ultimately threaten them. By compartmentalizing our existence, we’re re-enforcing expectations for chaos and conflict. Constructing walls and drawing borders is a commitment to retreating and defending.

By compartmentalizing our existence, we’re re-enforcing expectations for chaos and conflict. Constructing walls and drawing borders is a commitment to retreating and defending.

In his essay “Building Houses,” philosopher Vilem Flusser challenges the idea of traditional neighborhoods. By breaking down our walls and roofs, unlocking our doors and windows, we’d better appreciate our world and each other, Flusser said. “People would no longer be able to duck and hide, and they would have neither foundation nor support. They would have no choice but to extend a hand to others.”

The human experience compels us to step outside our compartments. It’s where we must look to understand the future of our material culture. It’s why mankind is attracted to collaborative technologies, like participatory media – they erase our borders. We’re programmed for social influences, and intimately affected by meaningful interactions.

Recreational drug use is casual and celebrative in healthy societies, while people drenched in loneliness seek out substance abuse, numbing their desperations. Billions of state and federal tax dollars fund the “war on drugs” each year in the United States, where efforts routinely fail to appreciate the problems of a culture estranged by ignorance.

For more than 100 years, the Olympic Games have matured in venues of cross-cultural connections. International film awards and music and art festivals collectively honor human accomplishments and creativity. The events free Earth’s citizens from their political and religious extremists, individuals bent on border protection and cultural exceptionalism, meaning one’s own culture is different and therefore superior.

“The world needs American leadership,” said U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney, addressing a crowd in Virginia. Violent protestors in Benghazi, Libya, had recently flooded the U.S. Consulate, killing the ambassador and three other U.S. citizens. “When our grounds are being attacked and being breached,” said Romney, defining the soil of the North African country, where U.S. forces assisted in the violent overthrow and killing of its leader, “that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation.” Migrant ideologies are the 21st century’s prevailing form of colonization.

Christianity and Islam, mankind’s two largest religions, the faiths of about four billion people, underline the need for more unguarded communities. The Bible says, “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater” (Mark 12:31). The Quran states, “And when they hear ill speech, they turn away from it and say, ‘For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. Peace be to you.’ (28:55) … God created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another” (49:13).

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts,” said Mark Twain in his book, “The Innocents Abroad,” 1868. “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”


Image credit: “The Blue Marble,” by Reto Stöckli, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (land surface, shallow water, clouds). Enhancements by Robert Simmon (ocean color, compositing, 3D globes, animation). Data and technical support: MODIS Land Group; MODIS Science Data Support Team; MODIS Atmosphere Group; MODIS Ocean Group Additional data: USGS EROS Data Center (topography); USGS Terrestrial Remote Sensing Flagstaff Field Center (Antarctica); Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (city lights).

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