Commentary, National Commentary

Editorial: Team Earthling

If ever the notion of “neighbor” were to be stretched, now is the time. The deployment and now operational success of the Webb Space Telescope (WST), sending by far the clearest images from by far the deepest (and most ancient) realms of the universe, is having an almost religious consequence for millions. We are now seeing the most fully arrayed portrait of our true parent(s).

All that we are seeing is not out there, but for the thoughtful person, also in here. This is the universe that has given birth to us, whose DNA, if you will, permeates us through and through. We human beings on Planet Earth are part of this, not separate observers. Also in this first week of the WST’s initial images, but apparently unrelated to it, scientists at MIT have detected highly unusual, regularly patterned radio signals emanating from a galaxy billions of light years away.

Pictured here, via the Webb Telescope, is the edge of “a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula.” Taken in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on the James Webb Telescope. Photo: NASA

No official scientist is ready yet to say these could be signals from an intelligent life source, but naturally it is one of the first things that crosses the minds of average citizens. Boy, do we want to know!

Yet, what would be the consequence of finding out for sure? Some skeptics would say we can’t know conclusively until some alien creature comes up to us and knocks on our forehead. Others, however, are already convinced that aliens from another world are already among us. Indeed, in the event this radio signal is a sign of intelligent life out there (in here), then it would have been sent billions of years ago and we can’t even imagine what such an intelligent source would be up to by now. On the other hand, there are the prospects of wormholes and the bending of the time-space continuum to take into account, and this pesky phenomenon known as “entanglement theory” which Einstein called “downright spooky” because it apparently involves veritable “action at a distance” for elements of the cosmos that are somehow paired or otherwise connected.

Whatever we find out going forward, it may involve things human brains simply can’t understand. But at the least, we need to affirm our role in all this, and if ever the time was right to broaden our appreciation of our neighbors, this would it. Our primary allegiance needs to be to a “neighborhood association” that is truly global for this, our planet. Implications are profound for the execution of so-called foreign policy initiatives and climate change mitigation efforts.

We need to see ourselves now as “Team Earthling” working to the common purpose of enhancing our capacity to understand our surroundings and to alter them for a general good, which must involve the proliferation of human minds with our unique (if not exclusive) capacity for self-reflection and creative thought.

The operation of our minds is clearly the most significant part of what the universe has established as the precondition for our consciousness, after all.