“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…”
Imagine by John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980)
IT was a giant leap for mankind when a human footprint was left on the moon on July 20, 1969.
The moon landing is hailed as one of the greatest human achievements in history.
But maybe more so is the ‘overview effect’, a term coined by writer Frank White in 1987 in his book The Overview Effect – Space Exploration and Human Evolution, which refers to the experience many astronauts have had upon observing our planet from space.
In the brilliant documentary The Overview Effect, he said: “Many of the great wisdom traditions of the Earth have pointed to what we’re calling the overview effect. That is to say they had realised this unity, this oneness of all life on Earth.”
Space adventurers see the world with no boundaries, no divisions – only elegance and grace. In space they see a glorious, conscious, breathing organism where every living part contributes to the whole.
Their view of humanity and our world changed when they were in orbit in that they realised with their hearts, minds and souls that Earth is small and vulnerable, a speck in the fabric of the universe.
Astronaut Nicole Stott describes it as “this dynamic, alive place that you see glowing.”
From space, it seems, any human is instantly hit by the beauty and fragility of Earth and in a split second realises how ridiculous conflict is.
It would have been former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday on July 18.
When I interviewed his former prison guard Christo Brand for The Times earlier this year he told me how Mandela survived 27 years behind bars thanks to his belief in the good in the world.
Christo also told me: “He would work on his prison garden. He’d always have some daisies or other flowers in his garden… He would say, ‘There’s still life… the flowers still bloom.’”
A friend of mine believes that a way to highlight the absurdity of violence would be for one side to launch flowers to shower the opposing side with, much like the famous Banksy image of the rioter throwing a bunch of blooms.
I reckon everyone who’s ever been into space would probably concur and think an act like that could prove to be the greatest leap ever for mankind.
* If this has resonated with you, please make a donation to a charity that fills your heart with hope for the future.