Solar eclipses are rare, especially the eclipse of the century. Whether short-lived or prolonged, full or partial, solar eclipses tend to capture the attention of observes around the world. They are so noticeable that they force people to look to the sky. Throughout history, solar eclipses have fallen into the same category as magic and mysticism. Often eliciting great fear among populations, they were often received as omens of terrible things to come. Today, science tells us solar eclipses are largely insignificant and meaningless celestial events that easily predicted. Solar eclipses are analogous to someone stepping in front of a child’s night light.
Outside of the opportunity scientists have to better observe the Sun, eclipses have no intrinsic value. People do, however, tend to notice when a vanilla sky appears and the Sun goes dark. Although eclipses are harmless, the sky is filled with astronomical events that could decimate all aspects of human life. These are things the human race should probably try to understand. Long ago, the nigh sky was the family television and iPad, so people paid a great deal more attention to the sky. Today, even the value of family and friends is eclipsed by the prettiest of everyday problems. Recognizing the sky is also filled with endless beauty, the primary reason people do not care is that they are consumed by the trivial details of modern life.
Ironically, the most important events of the most influential and powerful people in world are inconsequential to the universe. What is important on the surface of the Earth has no impact on the rest of the universe. The pretty squabbles and frivolous diversion that seem so important to people are thoroughly meaningless. If people could see their lives from outside of the Earth, from outside of the Solar System, and from outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, it would become very clear that even the most serious issues are petty in the scope of things. As people, we should understand that our lives boil down to a few minor, yet personally treasured, details that matter only to us and loved ones.
The world faces an endless stream of problems largely created by the inability of people to compromise and cooperate. There are people who do not enjoy the security, comfort, and privilege of modern lifestyle, so they must spend their time and energy struggling to provide for their most basic needs like our ancestors, who did pay attention to the sky. There are those who struggle to survive in the middle of armed conflicts, which are caused powerful people struggling for control, For those enjoying a modern lifestyle, most of the alleged problems we fare are simply inconveniences and irritations. Modern humans are so consumed by the pretty distractions of everyday life that we have little time for or interest in the universe.
Just as ants do not ponder the shadow of an inquisitive child as they toil away in search of food for a busy colony, people have become so preoccupied with what immediately affects them that the distant universe feels small and inconsequential. The ant may not be able to safeguard all it holds dear from a child’s cruel prank, but it can recognize that it lives in a much bigger world and learn to value what is most important to it. Because humans are humans, curiosity means the ability to learn and adapt. It means people can learn how to explore the universe and eventually play with the forces of the universe, which can allow people to safeguard all that they love.
People may not yet be able to defend against the will of the universe, but there is plenty more to be done on Earth. Like the ant, people live in a world of giants that most people tend to ignore. Heads of states, military leaders, corporations, and other global players are the giants who seem to control every aspect of modern live and the ability of the world’s population to safeguard what they treasure. Wars and recessions tend to garner a great deal of public outrage and fear against these giants, but these giants are largely left to freely roam and crush the lives of average people. The devastation these giants create are the consequences of poor governance and a lack of civic engagement.
It is not enough to look to the sky, because there is a solar eclipse or some seemingly catastrophic event. A solar eclipse is, after all, just a random and inconsequential occurrence. People need to look to the sky everyday. People need to pay attention to things that are bigger than them. It is important to look to the sky in order to see beyond the petty struggles of life. The world has a lot of problems, but those problems can be overcome by people taking part in the much bigger world. People may be small, but no one is too small to be a giant on Earth. World leaders become leaders, because they decide to seize control of their destiny instead of hoping others will step up.
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