Last night two separate things happened. While on the deck, just before I went to bed, I looked up at the stars and thought I don’t think I’d like to go Space. It has no mystery for me, but it does for some, and one day they will get anywhere in Space they want to. The second thing that happened was a series of dreams. I dream very, very vividly. They’re like watching a movie for me. In one of those dreams for some reason, I was on an old 1950’s greyhound bus travelling to Jasper Alberta. But on the way there we had to cross the U.S. Border for 25 mins. So we had 25 mins to hit a 1970’s U.S. shopping mall. After a little while, a group of U.S. marine drill sergeants started screaming at us to get back on the bus. We had 25 seconds. My adult daughter, a slow mover, was nowhere to be seen. I was waiting at the door to our bus, and there she was slowing walking toward me from 50 yards away with three marine Sargents’ screaming at her to hurry up and get on the bus. Then a buzzer went, and I was screaming at her from 50 yards away as they dragged her off.
Why I am I telling you about my thoughts on space travel and my bizarre dreams? Well, in the case of space travel, I realized that the much harder journey was not outward to Space but inward. Gaining the knowledge and skills to understand ourselves and overcome our sometimes violent, selfish, and angry natures. In the case of the dream, I was in that most inward of spaces, a dream, and rather than defend my daughter or rescue her, I was unbelievably furious. I was angry and woke up in the night very angry at her.
This morning as I lay in bed on those precious 3 to 5 minutes when consciousness has just arrived, and you begin to consider the night that past and the day to come, another thought occurred to me. Anything we humans can think of we can eventually create. Someone thought of the need to cross a river, and from that, we have colossal ocean-going vessels both above and below the ocean. Someone once thought of the idea of flying, and sure enough, we fly. We wanted machines to make work for us easier, and we created those, and from there devices to help us think faster, and sure enough, we have them today. Will we have teleportation?. Sure we will. Will we be able to live entirely in virtual environments wholly separated from our bodies? Yep, we will. Will he be able to travel to stars and then sit inside them. Yep. Time travel? Sure. Faster than light travel? Yep. Overcome poverty, the destruction of the environment, end disease? No problem – we could do that today if we wanted to.
How about peace? Understanding? Love for our fellow human? Equality? End Prejudice? Create a harmonious world?
And there’s the rub. When I woke up last night, furious with my daughter, I realized the important journey is not one to the stars or toward some brighter technological future, but one toward a more humane human race. Do we have the self-control or self-awareness to travel the universe when we have such indifference toward one another? Can we handle the responsibility of immortality when there are black people in the streets telling the rest of they are not treated with equality or equity? Can we handle the vast potential of artificial intelligence when allowing ourselves to be manipulated into believing monstrous lies on Facebook?
No, I don’t think so.
But what if we ever do harness our own potential for love and compassion and self-awareness? Those would be dreams of which we can’t even begin to conceive. Wouldn’t it be audacious of us if we started that journey to those stars? That would be a journey of discovery worth making.