[This was something that I wrote and posted on Facebook on ANZAC Day in 2013. I’ve updated it to bring it in line with this year’s ANZAC Day, which is exactly 100 years since those sad events occurred. In instances where I’ve alluded to more current events in 2013 I’ve found it unnecessarry for anything to be updated, despite the fact that the events alluded to have changed. That in itself has provoked feelings both ironic and tragic.]
After running in the light of a full moon recently, I was reminded that the Earth was hit by a large planetesimal approximately four and a half billion years ago. The debris thrown off from this impact formed the large, lifeless satellite that has orbited the Earth ever since, and controls against what would be the Sun’s catastrophic tidal affect on Earth’s oceans. The planetesimal also provided additional iron to the Earth’s core, resulting in a magnetic field that moderates Earth’s surface temperatures.
It also has allowed the Earth’s axis to remain steady enough to have allowed organic material, most of it deposits from the Kuiper Belt’s asteroids, to have the right sort of conditions to produce a multitude of life upon the Earth. The fragility of this complex setup is demonstrated by the fact that, so far, a similar incubation system within the Solar System, let alone this galaxy or the rest of the universe, has not been found. It would appear to be a rare (and a perhaps unique) anomaly.
Just over one hundred years ago, one biped form- a result of the evolution of life over the last 3.6 billion years- decided to shoot two of its kind, eventually resulting in the death of millions in the four years that followed. Today’s date marks one of the greatest, and most tragic, strategic blunders during those four years, where bipeds went about destroying their own kind. The way those four years concluded resulted in a backlash that started more biped forms killing each other some twenty one years later, although this was preceeded by events at least eight years before that. The ambiguity at the end of that conflict has resulted in more conflicts, and has had ramifications that have been experienced even within the last month, seventy years later. All this has occurred within 100 years.
100 years- compared to the 4.8 billion years that this tiny blue dot has been around, which in itself is a fraction of the existence of the universe itself. It takes profound irony to point out how insignificant these conflicts are to the rest of the universe, or how the rest of the universe knows nothing of them. Their lack of knowledge only adds to our isolation- our loneliness- from the rest of the universe, even though we are a part of it.
Despite this, the futile loss of billions of these bipeds, mosty innocent pawns who have died due to the lust for power by an insane few, is profoundly sad. The moon, sailing across all of these events, knows nothing of them (nor has knowledge or care of the conflicts to come). The moon helped to provide an unique set of conditions that allowed life, including the ‘higher intellect’ bipeds, to evolve. It would be poetic to say that the moon watches on helplessly as these bipeds take life away from themselves, but the simple fact is that we are alone. If the bipeds succeed in destroying themselves, the moon will still orbit the Earth- at least until the Sun explodes in about 5 billion years. After that no record of what has happened will exist. All record of humankind will not exist, and if perchance the anomaly that permitted life to exist on the Earth turns out not to be unique, then future intelligence will never know of this previous anomaly.
And yet, there is not enough space in the universe to express the sadness and horror experienced by those who have been destroyed by the events of the last 100 years- by those who subsequently mourn them, and by those who will continue to mourn them in the many years to come. The human condition can bring so much anguish when it inflicts pain and suffering upon itself, yet when thought through it is capable of bringing joy, love, understanding, and hope. It may be harder and longer to achieve the last, but it allows so many more to live, and to exist in happiness.
Lest we forget, and lest we forget to learn from those before us.
(For Cyril- who arrived at his final resting place during his last voyage on the Thursobank in 1942, and which we only discovered some three years ago. I am so sorry.)