Children of the Cosmos
An extraterrestrial visitor visiting the Earth and looking at the differences among human beings and their societies would find those difference trivial compared to the similarities between them. However, we, the Earthlings, have held the peculiar notion that a person or society that is a little different from us, whoever we are, is somehow strange or bizarre, to be distrusted or loathed.
Think for instance of the negative connotations of words like Alien or Outlandish. And yet the cultures of each of our civilisations merely represent different ways of being human.
Think than of Cosmos which is populated with many intelligent beings. Everyone of them is very different, because the Darwinian lesson is very clear: there will be no humans elsewhere.
Only here, on the Earth. Only on this small planet there are Humans. In fact, we are as rare as well as an endangered species.
We are, in the most profound sense, children of the Cosmos. The Sun warms us and feeds us and permits us to see. It fecundated the Earth. It is powerful beyond human experience.
Think of the Sun’s heat on your upturned face on a cloudless summer’s day; think how dangerous it is to gaze at the Sun directly. From 150 million kilometers away, we recognize its power. What would we feel on its seething self-luminous surface, or immersed in its heart of nuclear fire?
Birds greet the sunrise with an audible ecstasy. Even some one-celled organisms know to swim to the light. Our ancestors worshiped the Sun, and they were far from foolish. The early Sumerian pictograph for god was an asterisk, the symbol of the stars. The Aztec word for god was Teotl, and its glyph was a representation of the Sun. The heavens were called the Teoatl, the godsea, the cosmic ocean.
And yet the Sun is an ordinary, even a mediocre star. If we must worship a power greater than ourselves, does it not make sense to revere the Sun and stars? Hidden within every astronomical investigation, sometimes so deeply buried that the researcher himself is unaware of its presence, lies a kernel of awe.
If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies you will not find another. Image: © Megan Jorgensen