World peace must be based on world plenty.
So there you are, are you?
One of the few vivid images from my infancy that I still remember was looking up and seeing an airplane. As I knew nothing about fuels or aerodynamics, it was mysterious.The experience of seeing this large object, which wasn't a bird, gliding along through the air has stuck with me all my life.
As I grew I became very interested in the solar system. I was fascinated by those planets, all different from each other and all having mythical names. I wanted to visit all of them. But there was no such thing as space travel back then. In fact, most people thought it was an impossibility and merely the stuff of science fiction. And yet, in my lifetime, it has gone from an impossibility to a daily event.
Now NASA is discussing a manned trip to Mars, the nearest of those planets. Mars, the Roman god of war, which brings up a point to ponder. One way or another, through discovery or colonization, there is or will be life on other planets. Suppose we discovered another inhabited planer with a totally alien but intelligent civilization. What would we do about it? We could do the stupid thing that humans have been doing for centuries, assume they are hostile and out to destroy us and hence attack them. Wage war. It has been said many times by many great thinkers, presidents, generals and historians, that whenever a nation is waging war in a foreign land they are always claiming to be doing it in defense. The US Department Of Defense was originally called the Department of War.
But look at the history. Some people were assured the Russians were out to destroy us and so we set up a huge expensive defense against that happening. The Russians meanwhile had a similar opinion about the western world and so we had underwater ships sniffing around our borders, spy planes over head and eventually satellites taking pictures of each others armaments. That's still going on.
But then World War III became the Cold War. The Berlin Wall went up and came down again. Khrushchev came to visit. Nixon went to visit, Then the Sputnik flew and the Cold War suddenly became the Space Race which took us to the Moon. And now we, the Russians and the Japanese a real former enemy are all working together in space. I know I have just dashed headlong through a lot of important history, but my point is that we have come to a place of mutual cooperation in an effort which many, including myself, feel is the most important scientific activity for the human race.
Contrarily, some people are of the opinion that we shouldn't be spending so much time and money in outer space but should be concentrating on the problems we have right here on Earth. John Orr is probably right that world peace must be based on world plenty, which says that the biggest problem we have here is lack, lack of peace and lack of plenty. But I could turn that quote around and imply that world plenty must rely on world peace. If nations didn't spend so much time and money on defense, i.e. war, what would be the result? One result, which history shows us is that the enemies of today can become the friends of tomorrow. If we stopped waging war on each other or preparing to, we could cooperate and work together to solve the problem of the lack of plenty. That's a circumstance "devoutly to be wished," a pipe dream, you say, an opium trip, a pie in the sky.
But wait! We have a pie in the sky, in fact we have a lot of them and they come from all around the world. What if one of those pies found intelligent life somewhere? And what if we had learned our lessons well enough to not throw nuclear weapons at it? And what if we avoided the Cold War and went right for a Space Race with it.
One planet in a contest with another in a huge Cosmic Olympics of science, technology and culture. We are competitive type people after all.
There will be peace and plenty in this world when this world is competing with another world instead of with itself.
Smile, the Universe is watching you.