I often find myself gazing up at the night sky awed by the magnitude of the universe. So many stars with numerous planets revolving around many of them. In such vastness is it possible that we are all alone. The odds alone would seem to say no, that somewhere out there are other intelligent life. But what if their isn’t what if Earth is special. Teeming with various species this wonderful blue ball we call home travels around the sun not to close and not to far just the right distance to sustain life as we know it. The moon is our constant companion as we journey through space unique in its size to that of Earth compared to other planet’s satellites. Acting as a defense to shield us from asteroids and comets that would have otherwise impacted Earth. As well as serving as a major player in the evolution of life on Earth. Could all these factors just have been luck. Is life on Earth something that defied the odds and is unlikely to have happened anywhere else or is it all part of a master design.
Since science has taught us about the creation of the universe and the evolution of life here on Earth it has been at odds with the concept of creationism. But what if there is some truth to both? What if there is a higher force that started it all? What if the existence of the universe in all its wonder is developing the way science teaches us but is doing so as part of a higher force’s grand design if that is so why are we unique, as far we know, in the vastness of space? That question itself begs the answer to a another question. What are we here for, what are we meant to do, meant to be?
Since the beginning of mankind we have found ways to hate, subjugate, and kill each other based on whatever excuse is convenient at the time. We have evolved to the point that not only are we a danger to each other but to our most important living force, Mother Earth. Clearly this could not be our purpose. We must have a greater significance or our very existence is pointless. After all when all the prejudices that fuel our hate are wiped away we are all the same. We may look different, speak different languages, live on one side of a imaginary lines we have divided this planet into or the other but we are all human reliant on this beautiful blue ball that we seem to take for granted as we continue to abuse her.
I choose to believe that if we embraced each other, showed compassion to each other and stopped our abuse of the planet we would be able to connect as a whole, each individual with each other and subsequently with the Earth itself. The sheer thought of what that connection would unleash within us, what we could accomplish as a species is beyond description and maybe just maybe that is what we are meant to accomplish. Maybe the higher force gave us the ability to make our own decisions to see if we would embrace the concept of unity. To see if we could work together to uplift each other, to build a better society one in which all individuals would live without the fear of hunger, homelessness, poverty, terrorism and war. If that truly is our ultimate purpose we are a long way from realizing it. But we have taken baby steps in the right direction as the fictional Captain Kirk once uttered – We are a promising species and maybe in a thousand years or so we’ll be able to prove it. After all our existence is unique now we must prove we are worthy of that.
Some of us are republicans some democrats and some independents. Some of us are people of color some of us are not. Some of us are heterosexual some homosexual some bisexual. Some of us Christian some Muslim some Jewish some atheists and a hosts of other beliefs. In the end we are all American and most importantly we are all humans.
In some of us thete is often a fear of the unknown, an irrational fear that leads to isolation. Isolation leads to a lack of knowledge and understanding about those that are different from us and if history has taught us anything it is that a lack of knowledge often leads to disastrous results. It also can lead to the continuous growth of the prejudices we all have with-in us. Those prejudices are stripped away as we begin to understand those who differ from us. However for those who remain isolated those prejudices remain and can be easily stoked by people in power who do so for the goal of advancing their wealth and power. These individuals thrive on chaos and division. They speak non truths and keep the people divided against each other rather than uniting for the betterment of mankind as a whole. They want us to be afraid of each other, they want us to hate each other, they want us to lose our compassion for each other, they want us to build walls to separate us. This strategy allows them to take advantage of us all. As Suzy Kassem wrote
When two brothers are busy fighting, an evil man can easily attack and rob their poor mother.
We must strive as Americans and humans to rise above the evil that seeks to divide us. We must stand together and keep moving forward as a society. We must marginalize those who refuse to embrace diversity. For in unifying one voice into many voices we will be able to change the despair of today into the promise of tomorrow and from that we all will be better.
I am pleased to see that we have differences.
May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.
-Surak of Vulcan
I am the child of Charles and Frances Cooke two African-Americans born in the early 1900s in the southern part of the United States. As such I have always identified myself as African-American and from time to time was reminded of this by society. From being chased out of a park while being called a nigger when I was 10, having a police officer point a gun at my head when I was 15 simply because I made the mistake of tossing a football around the yard of a white friend who lived in the suburbs, to being pulled over numerous times in my early 20s despite not fitting the “profile” because as kind of a nerd I normally had on penny loafers with argyle socks and matching sweater but my skin color was still the wrong shade.
While my self identification is the result of being raised, loved, and natured by two exceptional individuals who themselves were also African-American I am also adopted, a fact that was kept hidden from me until my late 30s. I know nothing of my biological father other than the fact that he wasn’t African-American. Recently I completed one of those DNA test and found out I was in fact 54.6% Sub-Saharan African and 43.9% European. Interesting I thought as I looked at my results how many of those Europeans had looked at me and seen just the color of my skin and thought of me as inferior? How many of them don’t look like me but have a similar ancestry? Does it really matter what my ancestry is? Does it define how I should live my life?
Our ancestry defines our culture and to a large extend our culture is a leading factor in defining who we are. But while it is a leading factor it does not change the fact that we are all human. Humans with differences but humans nevertheless. It is our differences that If embraced instead of feared would in fact make us stronger as a species. The sun, Earth’s primary source of energy, emits white light but that white light is actually a composite of all of the visible frequencies of light. Without the differences all the colors bring there would be no light at all. So is the case with the human species? Where would we be without our many differences? How would we advance and grow without the varied contributions of so many cultures?
The question before us now is how do we begin to embrace our differences as a species when our entire existence shows we let those differences divide us. Seemingly there is no answer to that. Man has always fostered a sense of loyalty rooted in group identity. We pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer has always been mankind’s rallying call. I am pessimistic about our ability to overcome the us versus them mentality in the short term. However I am optimistic that the human is a very promising species and as Captain Jean Luc Picard once said “inside you is the potential to make yourself better…and that is what it is to be human. To make yourself more than you are.” Today our difference divide us perhaps tomorrow we will be better and our differences will be our strength.
You thought you had us beat when you took us from our home, stripped us of our culture and told us we were no longer people but property.
You thought you had us beat when you raped our women, beat our men and sold our children.
You thought you had us beat when you donned your first sheet, burned your first cross and rode through the night striking terror into our hearts.
You thought you had us beat when you silenced our voices at the voting booths with violence and intimidation
You thought you had us beat when you turned us away at the lunch counter and locked the doors to the school.
You thought you had us beat when you set free the dogs and turned the hoses on us.
You thought you had us beat when you assassinated one leader after another of a movement that dared only to ask that you treat us as equals.
You thought you had us beat when you devoted hundreds of years to stripping away our dignity, our pride, our self-worth
You thought you had us beat but here we are still standing, refusing to go away. Because despite your best efforts your actions were merely those of a coward, not nearly enough to totally defeat us. We are rising up now, together as one, and others are joining us regardless of their race, color, religion, creed, gender or national origin, a coalition of the righteous and we are gathering momentum each and every day. We are going to create a world where color doesn’t matter. A world without conflicts and killings. A world without borders and boundaries. A world united not divided, ruled by love not hate. A world where anything is possible.
You thought you had us beat but we are here to tell you your time is coming to an end and ours is just beginning.