Your life, viewed through the shuttered spectacle of self, is abhorrently insignificant. Nothing you do has noticeable impact on the world; it is easy to go through the daily motions, business as usual, with nary a twinge of thought on things greater than the personal bubble. We are, truly, fleeting specks of light in the darkness, minuscule mutations on the string of time. Our entire lives come and go in a cosmic blink. It is easy to be cowed by the frightening reality of mortality.
This is the lens through which most of us view the world; one of frightful hubris underscored by a global need for competition. In this world, we suffer. In this world, we climb over and on each other to reach the “summit,” a heaving chaotic plateau of arrogance, subterfuge, and rampant immorality. Carl Sagan addressed this, saying, “Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.” What blind, greedy arrogance: the thought that extinguishing other lights makes your brief spark brighter against the backdrop of the universe. There is always a bigger fish. There will always be a more despicable despot, a more ignominious villain. Such actions, any actions, that harm others simply make you more insignificant, more meaningless, to the passing of time.
However, this is not the only lens available. If there is one redeeming factor in our arrogance, it is our sheer belief in ourselves. There is always hope in the darkness, always some bastion of faith in our humanity winning out. This is such a hope. Viewed alone, we are matches, individual moments of flame that quickly fade and die. United, we are a bonfire of monumental proportions, with no limit to the potential we have, with no end to what the light can touch. Instead of snuffing out others prematurely, strike match to match to kindling to branches to logs. The growth of fire is exponential when given the right conditions. Giving humanity that same perfection of conditions is as simple as competing for each other rather than with each other. No longer sparks, humanity could be a beacon of light in the darkness of space.
We can only ever function at peace as a global community if everyone has access, and equitable access, to the same resources. Does a child in the global south have less potential than one in the global north other than in the allocation of resources? It should go without saying, but times have shown that reminders are needed. It is never better to have on person go up while another falls, especially not when the opportunity is there to benefit all. Take the time to think of things greater than our bubble, our momentary sparks, and we can begin to heal the damage that we see runs deep in our country and across the world. Real power lies in empowering others. It is past time for us to reconcile our differences and work together to build the future we deserve.