Jimbob's Journal
The View from Here
by Jim Harris

I'm writing this on an airplane en route from Philadelphia to Chicago. I'm always moved to write when I fly because no matter how often I do it, I just can't seem to take it for granted. It's kind of like being shot out of a cannon and somehow landing safely. Apart from wonder at the sheer mechanics of it all, I also feel as if I'm in a place that humans are uniquely privileged to be.

I plaster my face to the little window as we soar above towns, cities and dazzling natural formations carved out over the centuries. I pretend I'm an intergalactic traveler looking down at Earth. What is it with these humans? If there's one word to describe them all, it's "orderly". Seemingly endless systems of highways, power lines, and satellite dishes peering up at the sky like hungry baby birds. People, materials and information flowing in all directions, governed by agreed upon rules and conventions. These humans may like to think that they are free spirits, but they are more connected to and dependent upon each other than any other earthly specie.

This interconnectedness is what makes it possible for one exceptional person, like a Schweitzer or a Gandhi, to have such an immediate and lasting effect on the course of events. unfortunately it also gives the same power to the agents of greed and prejudice. You can't legislate morality, the saying goes, and you can't hard-wire it into people's brains either, because it must constantly change with the times. Ultimately, moral decisions must be made by the good old-fashioned hearts and minds of the people. You've just got to have faith.

Judging by the view from here, you'd think that the human world was a paradise of harmony and cooperation. No borders, no barriers. You'd think that there was plenty of prosperity and good will to go around.

There are other animals on the planet too, of course, but their presence is not visibly apparent from this height. They tend to come and go in relative obscurity and leave their environment as they found it. Surely the wise people who built these gleaming cities are caring enough to share the land with their fellow creatures.

The sun is disappearing below the horizon in a burst of golden rays against the black, starry backdrop of space. The lights in the tiny houses below begin to flicker on, one by one. I am reminded of the words of the crew of Apollo 8 as they headed for the dark side of the moon on Christmas eve 1968. "Good night to everyone on the good earth".

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