“As you pass from sunlight into darkness and back again every hour and a half, you become startlingly aware how artificial are thousands of boundaries we’ve created to separate and define. And for the first time in your life you feel in your gut the precious unity of the Earth and all the living things it supports.”
-Russell Schweikart, Apollo 9
We always think, “Horrific things happen in the world, but they’re never going to happen here, where I am.” Even though that is an extremely irrational thought, it is how I’ve always felt at some sheltered, naive core of mine. And yet, yesterday the worst mass shooting in modern US history happened in the nearest city to me, at a bar that I would consider going to if I was in Orlando.
I would never think terrorism would happen in central Florida. But maybe the pro-gun philosophy here was asking for it. Coming from a widespread LGBT community in the Bay Area, I am deeply upset that an act of love between two people inspired a terrorist to kill. If terrorism does not allow us to love or live or have fun, our species is being pushed off the edge of vitality.
Violence is a disease of our species and it will not be cured with more violence. As long as guns exist in easy access, these things will continue to happen over and over again. Only peace and love in the face of violence can eventually begin to alleviate violence, (even if that means your individual death). But the death of an individual that showed love in the face of violence would ripple throughout the world. Even if the (happily inebriated) people in the Orlando nightclub had guns on them, it would have done little to stop someone with such lethal skill. People in Florida think they need to have a gun in their home (my roommates do, to my horror) in case some militant threat shows up- but honestly, if ISIS showed up at your door, there’s nothing your one gun and limited skill are going to do to mitigate the threat. It is a primitive species that kills each other in sheer brutality. Apparently we have not evolved beyond our primitive animal nature.
The earth and our species seem to be at a stage of immense danger. I am more convinced than ever that we must colonize another planet- Mars or the Moon with an artificial atmosphere- in order for our species to continue. Violence, overpopulation, and pollution threaten the entire earth. Guns must not be allowed on the new planet we colonize. We need a peaceful leader for Mars, a leader that does not condone war, separation by nation, religion, gender, race or sexual orientation, or violence in any facet. If I have anything to do with it, the first space colony will not have guns, will not have weapons, will not differentiate between prior nationality or race or gender, and there would be no development of Martian nations. We would all be planetary citizens only and there would be agreement that every individual is entitled to their own personal and spiritual beliefs about life with freedom from indoctrination from others. No astronaut in the colony will be categorized as “American” or “Japanese” or “Black” or “Hispanic” or “Female” or “Male.” And no person should ever be forced to check boxes identifying these artificial boundaries. And if you didn’t agree with these means of the pursuit of planetary peace, then you can stay on earth. And frankly, that would not worry me at all, because only individuals that cooperate peacefully and intelligently can pursue complex space endeavors at all. Violent people like ISIS terrorists would simply not be able to make it to the moon or Mars on their own. I see the far-future earth as possibly becoming a place for the ignorant and violent, for the people left behind that are not able to make it to space either due to lack of peaceful cooperation or lack of intelligence.
If and only if we can get to another planet standing on a firm tenet of nonviolence, will we be able to progress and persist as a species. As long as guns and extremism and disregard for our planet exist on earth, the conquest of space will be the only venture that can provide the solution. I no longer, in any minute sense, see the pursuit of space travel as merely something “fun and cool” and extraneous, but absolutely the single most serious and important endeavor of humanity, for our safety and survival.
All of us, regardless of nationality, race, gender, etc., face the same human condition. To impart hatred or violence on another is to threaten your own human condition because that hatred will propel outward and hurt us all. It is hard enough that together, everyday, we must face the void and confusion of the mystery of the universe, but to live on a planet without any security of safety is more terrifying than the void behind the human condition itself.