Either we are the most superlative creations that this universe has ever seen, or we are the least significant life forms that this cosmos has to offer.
This “either-or” proposition does not sit well with us. It has never sat well with us, at least for the last several thousand years, that is. Humanity demands to be the center if it all and we demand that our individual beliefs should supersede the beliefs of all others.
We inhabit a time and place where pride and thoughtlessness erodes the more generous and thoughtful virtues humanity has to offer itself. It seems as if the desire to be the epicenter of attention in the our social and political universe has replaced the altruistic humility necessary for our species to thrive as a community.
As a result rather than extending ourselves toward one another out of civility, we erect temporary barriers of wire and chain to separate “safe spaces” on both the right and the left. Polarization becomes justified at the expense of unification.
It would seem we are surrounded by “dark matter” and it appears to be getting darker by the minute.
According to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, 96% of this thing we call the universe is made up of stuff that reflects no light, emits no light and appears immune to the influence of gravity.
Dark matter, they call it.
If that’s not enough that we don’t comprehend 96% of matter in the known universe, that universe seems to be expanding which means that number representing the percentage of dark matter is going up.
As goes the universe, so goes the planet.
Today, each nation seems to grapple with some form of anxiety originating in the ever-growing populations of “others” residing amongst traditional views of national identity. The alien among us threatens some because of the alien’s foreign nature. However, look closer and something familiar can be found in the strangers.
Some rise from their easy chairs to defend against perceived threats to certain absolutes they hold so dear. In part this is because these concepts represent the 4% of the universe that we’re comfortable with, those things which according to our feeble perception seem permanent, or at least ought to be — like coal mining jobs, Confederate monuments and white privilege.
That’s probably why a percentage of the American electorate is attracted to rhetoric espousing our superlative greatness since that offers a vision of self which some find and attractive good-plated reflection. Unfortunately that reflection is burnished by the strong opium of nostalgia. Under scrutiny, our perceived greatness is eclipsed by the shadow of our hypocrisy.
And, truly if we can only claim knowledge of 4% of our surroundings what then?
Each of us is a walking cosmos.
We are composed of 96% uncharted dark matter — just like the universe we spin through. That part of ourselves which is audible and visible — our speech and our action — represents a mere 4% of who we are as a species, as nations and as a planet. There is so much more to us than what appears floating upon the surface of being. Deeper, the obscure regions of inner-space reveal
Basically we have much to discover in the shadowy 96% of our daily universe.
Our superlativeness, if we can claim any at all, resides not in what we can achieve as singular individuals but rather what we might willingly transcend in order to achieve a collective sense of peace as we work towards reimagining our “wholeness” as people, as nations and as a planet.