Justin Nobel | Longreads | September 2018 | 12 minutes (3,068 words)
Earlier this year, as the climate crisis continued to spin out of control and our president divvied up our public lands and coastal waters to the oil and gas industry, many of us good happy Americans in the Resistance sat in our cubicles and living rooms to watch SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy hurtle toward our nearest red orb neighbor, gleefully convinced that this was the beginning of the thing that was going to save us. “One path is we stay on Earth forever, and then there will be some eventual extinction event,” wrote the man behind the rocket, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, in 2017. “The alternative is to become a space-bearing civilization and a multi-planetary species, which I hope you would agree is the right way to go.”
I find myself disagreeing and wondering what mind-numbing drug everyone is smoking. Then I find myself realizing, oh wait, this is just American culture, and we’ve had this idea that this land is the best, that we are the greatest, that there is nowhere or nothing better rammed down our throats since birth. Sure, we’re great, I don’t discount our freedoms, but were not all the peoples and cultures trampled and annihilated to forge this county also great? And here is the point: We are going into space with the same domineering mind-set that colonists have had when they’ve entered every new continent and realm.
Even the language and rhetoric of the latest space wave, which Musk is happily at the helm of, is the same. Colonizing. Taking over a “dead” world. Bringing our wonderful gifts of technology and culture to some godforsaken place. The saving of a race, the saving of an entire world, the nationalistic pride, the promise of an unfettered new land, the promise of bounty, the extraction of new resources. I am sorry, this leads nowhere good, and the reason is that there is no spirituality involved. If we enter space without a spiritual reckoning for what we’ve done to the Earth, we will kill space just as we are killing Earth. In fact, our contamination of space is well on its way. Read more…