Two stories have caught my attention recently – two, very different, sets of news.
On one side, the seemingly never- ending trauma caused by Covid, affecting millions of people all over the globe, and the indescribable suffering that comes with it.
Recent images from India, Brazil or Turkey echoing similar images seen last year in Italy, The United Kingdom or America. No one has been spared. Yet we still don’t seem to have learnt the lesson of unconditional solidarity.
The instinctive reaction remains “us first” despite evidence that we are all in this together and that unless we cooperate, help, and support each other, no one is safe.
The other, more uplifting set of news, comes from space: the exploits of Nasa’s Perseverance rover on Mars (launched in 2020, landing in February 2021, sending spectacular images and even sound recordings ever since!!) and, closer to home, the astronauts working on the international space station (SpaceX Crew 2 has recently replaced Crew 1, joining the Russian astronauts already on the station). Here we see collaboration on all levels, from research to investment (Nasa collaborating with SpaceX), to technical prowess, to the teams of astronauts seamlessly working together.
In a recent interview, Thomas Pesquet, the French astronaut from the European Space Agency, shared his thoughts about the privilege of working on the space station and being able to observe the Earth from that elevated perspective. He talked movingly about the frailty and the stunning beauty of our planet.
His message: Earth is a wonderful place, a precious and fragile oasis to be appreciated, cared for and protected.
Seen from space, both the beauty, and the frailty of our planet, our one and only home, are highlighted.
If we all become aware of this, there is hope that, together, we can find solutions to the problems we have created.
The Covid crisis has exposed our recklessness in our relationship with nature and our inability, as humanity, to recognize our unity and our common destiny. The view from space is worrying too.
Our planet is certainly suffering.
To put it bluntly, our planet is suffocating.
The metaphor is striking.
“I can’t breathe!” has painfully and tragically come to represent not only the reality of the unacceptable social injustice in our societies, but also the reality of the ecological catastrophe affecting the Earth, and the depth of the health crisis engulfing our planet.
Yet, the view from space is also uplifting.
We can work together. We can put our intelligence and our skills in the service of a common cause.
We are capable of spectacular achievements.
We understand that unity and solidarity can take us much further than division and selfishness.
We need a new perspective to help us acknowledge both our weaknesses and our strengths.
We can transform our recent experience of suffering into determination to change our ways.
We need a new perspective to remind us that life is both fragile and infinitely precious and that it is in our power to change our own path, and the common destiny of humanity.
We can use our astronauts’ input to feel motivated and inspired.
Our new perspective must be built on trust and responsibility.
It must acknowledge our common destiny, the healing power of solidarity and the fact that strength and lasting success can only be achieved through unity.