“… and the only thing that made the emptiness bearable was each other.”  – from the film “Contact”

I often fall into terrible depression when I consider humanity as a whole.  People tell me to focus instead on the good people I come across in my own circle of experience. They say do your own small acts of kindness in your own community. If we all do something to improve where we are, I’m told, the larger human community will naturally also improve.

Absolutely true. Partially. I mean I want to believe this. I do believe that paying attention to the good we experience where we are and doing what we can will make our local “home” a better place. On the other hand I can’t convince myself that this alone will lead to a better world at large.

courtesy of NASA https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/hubble-team-breaks-cosmic-distance-record

The problem, I think, is a matter of perspective.  I’ve spent more than a year captioning phone calls for the hearing impaired and it’s become quite obvious that some local communities are more homogenous than others, and that one person’s idea of improvement, of goodness, of humanity, can be widely different from someone elses.

I’m no expert in sociology, so as you continue reading you may consider throwing some salt over your shoulder.  It seems to me that all this focus on our immediate “Family” (local government, local business, local culture and faith and norms) makes it much easier to create a sort of bubble around ourselves. We risk becoming content with our own individual worlds and forget, or even lose the chance to ever know, our need for each other across the globe. (I find this bubble over and over again taking calls at work) Without considering the whole planet, I have found that the definition of “human” becomes very, very limited, and what people consider good tends to be good just for the place they are from. 

So I try to remember my small spot on the planet, and I try to do as much good as any one person can. But I also try not to forget the immensity of the human population and the almost unbearable emptiness that surrounds us.  

My only real consolation, my only source of peace, my only reason to keep living, is the presence of so many fellow humans. There may be life on other planets. Or there may not be. Either way there is life on this planet. It’s everywhere. It’s the only life we know, and if we do not start preserving that life as one life, we will lose it. 


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