Staring back at the world it seems remarkable that this is mankind’s crowning achievement. While other species scrabble in the dirt, living from biological impulse to biological impulse, we turned our attention to mastering first the earth around us and then the skies above us. We’re so used to seeing it from this distance, the pictures broadcast from satellites and the space stations, that we have known what our planet looks like. We have seen the lights clustering like swarming fireflies, storms gather, fires rage. From over two hundred miles away our astronauts sent back instantaneous photographs as if they were in the next room, images shared around the globe they were watching over. In the one hundred and fifty years since man first stepped onto the moon, the image of our earth has become ubiquitous.
We let its familiarity deaden our wonder. They sent the photographs of deforestation, fires scorching the African deserts into wasteland, the disappearing ice-sheets smaller each winter, and we wrung our hands and said ‘oh dear’ but in the back of our minds though ‘oh, that’s pretty.’
Our crowning achievement might be our ability to propel ourselves beyond our planet and see the earth as a single blue dot in the distance, but our crowning shame is that we cannot stay there any longer.
Time is limited for those who remain. There are plenty of course – nations who didn’t buy into the international space programme, individuals who still look at the pictures and think: maybe there’s time. There isn’t. Not really. Not for them. For the rest of us, time might be just as limited. I’m a pragmatist, and I know that this might not be the answer – after all, our progress has been slowed by our constant need to supply aid to those struck by environmental disasters, more and more each passing decade. It’s only been the last ten years when we finally closed our borders and turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the outsiders that we have made any real progress at all.
Mslexia’s next submission theme is Earth Songs – https://www.mslexia.co.uk/info/submit.php – why don’t you give it a try? Let me know how you get on!