Being an Earthling

December 26 2014

Hello Listservers everywhere!

Firstly, thanks to Listserve HQ friends for the chance to say something to the global community. Even if it's random choice, it's still an honour to be given the opportunity to write, as well as to read.

For my moment of your time, I'd like to remind you of the first-ever photo, taken from the Moon in 1969, of planet Earth. What an extraordinary thing that was to see - the view of the home of Earthlings that our neighbours would have, if there were such creatures. Suddenly the whole, huge, complex, busy and taken-for-granted thing you and I live on and rarely think about, probably, was seen hanging unsupported in dark empty space, looking delicate, fragile even - just a small blue-green empty-looking ball, where in fact all life as we know it started, and still exists.

Being an Earthling is an interesting idea, I believe. You and I are members of a single human race, and seeing Earth as one entity in that photo - a single atom in a vast, endless universe - suggests that there's much more to link us than to separate us. I often wonder why we have borders, then; boundaries, frontiers, even countries? All that naming the bits of the planet we each inhabit does seems more about separating us than seeing how much we have in common.

Yet isn't it great the way that the Listserve breaks those barriers down? I could be young, old, any race, gender, colour, creed, rich or poor - but I'm still exactly the same as you - an Earthling. And seriously, if I have to have a passport, I'd much rather it said Earthling that the name of some country. Why shouldn't it? Think of how much the world could change for the better, if the human race shared just one common name: Earthling. After all, pretty well every Earthling wants the same stuff: home, safety, enough to eat, someone to love, a healthy life, a job, good friends, family.

Maybe if we ditched the competition to be "better than" or "feel superior to" our neighbours, we could focus on what the real Earth issues are that you and I face - problems of fairness, justice, drinking water, food, rampant capitalism, poverty, finite resources, global pollution, climate change - if you live on Earth you can't ignore these, given that you live on the same planet, breathe the same air, as every other human. Remember: Earth isn't doomed, but Earthlings might be. We're perilously close to being as dead as the dinosaurs - the human race gone - if we don't cooperate globally.

I'm a 62 year old with a great life and am a lucky member of the privileged west. Most Listservers seem to average 25 or so and are rightly focused on their futures. I wish you well in yours; I also hope and trust you pay more attention to the ground under your feet than my generation has. When the oil, the bees, the rivers, the minerals and the crops have all gone - where and how will you live? Your children? It's their planet too - so be clever and be brave: you can help solve Earth's problems, otherwise you and I are doomed.

If there is any hope for the future of humankind, and the planet it stands on, it lies in the hands, hearts and minds of Earthlings - particularly the young, who are the Earth's future - and their own. To end optimistically - you're smart, and I trust you'll play your part.

Roger Gould
R.gould@lancaster.ac.uk
Lancaster, England



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