Space exploration is fascinating. I believe that our future lies in the stars and that we are not limited to Earth. In the course of humanity, we will inevitably advance our technologies to visit and live on other planets both in and out of our solar system. I want to help humanity get there.
But at the same time, I feel a lingering doubt in my mind. What makes us think that we should expand to other planets? I can’t help but think of humans as utterly disgusting creatures who inhabit a place, mess it up, and then move on to mess up another place.
A counter argument to that would be that the universe is so large that even if we did expand, it doesn’t really matter if we mess up a few more planets. But would it still be okay for us to leave a trail of our own mess?
I discussed the topic of space exploration with my neighbor who is a really rich business person and devout Catholic. I was explaining how maybe humanity doesn’t deserve to spread ourselves to other planets, and he responded by saying that it’s our right to go wherever we want to go. But is it, really? I mean, that line of thinking only proves how self-righteous we are.
I remember watching Wall-E, and thinking that the same fate may fall upon our planet if we’re not careful. We’ll escape to some far away place while Earth is in ruins. And then we’ll probably do it again. And then again. As technology becomes increasingly dangerous and corporations and people become more uncaring of the environment, how long do we have until we ruin ourselves? And once we do ruin everything on Earth and achieve the ability to harbor life on other planets, will we simply pack our bags and go to another planet?
It just seems so wrong, and incredibly sad. By promoting and furthering space exploration, would I be inadvertently promoting our disrespectful attitudes towards the land we live in? Or would space exploration actually make us realize how lucky we are to live on Earth?
I want to help humanity, but I don’t want humans to become creatures who are disrespectful of the land they live on. I love the Native American cultures (among many others) that see the land not as the property of any one person or persons, but as shared property (which isn’t completely true because Native Americans still established territorial rights between tribes, but at least they were more caring of the land than most cultures). Because in the end, we are the children of the universe, and we must respect and love the places we come from.
I hope humanity never forgets that we are mere visitors of the universe. With life in the city and the increasing number of people who live in urban areas, it’s hard to remember that. I know it’s pretty much impossible not to buy and sell land in today’s culture and growing economy, but I feel sad that we even gain profit from something that isn’t even ours and that we just take.
I think many people like space exploration because they are afraid of the death of humanity. Space exploration is a way of spreading out the eggs in multiple baskets, so if one fails there is still many others as backup. But with life comes death, and maybe it wouldn’t be so bad for humanity to die someday, once we live a while. Space exploration is just a way to prolong the life of humanity despite its inevitable death.
I think I’m slightly misanthropic, but I also really do love humanity as a whole. We’re kind of messed up, and sometimes I wish there exists/existed/will exist an alien species that just understands the universe without petty feelings and silly thoughts.
On a side note, it’s funny because I gave a portion of this rant to my dad so that he could offer me some insight. When he heard my words, he just laughed and said that a few years from now, I wouldn’t be thinking about the morality of space exploration. I would be too preoccupied with getting a job and doing what I had to do. I really hope he’s wrong, because without thinking about these things, I wouldn’t have any direction in my life. And if everyone thought about the moral consequences of their future line of work, we would all be a lot better off. I feel fortunate that I even have the ability to choose my life, and I hope I never regret my decisions.