Some people called the 2013 American congress a bunch of do-nothings. One of the most inactive congresses in the history of the American nation.
The scientists were there asking the government to refund SETI (The Search for extraterrestrial intelligence), an organization founded by Carl Sagan. For over a decade, SETI was under NASA, but in the mid 90s, the government decided to pull the funding and SETI has operated with private donations since.
During the congressional hearing, a few good questions were asked like how can we get kids interested in science? And a few sad tongue-in-cheek questions were also spewed. Republican Ralph Hall was nearly sarcastic when he asked who out there is watching us?
But the Democrats couldn’t be outdone by Hall’s blatant nose-thumbing at science. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a statement saying, “No wonder the American people think this Republican Congress is from another planet — they’re more interested in life in space than Americans’ lives.”
It was still a wonderful day after so much gridlock in the American government seeing our representatives debating things that will impact humanity someday. Even if nothing legislative came from it all.
Progress, Y U Gotta Be So Difficult?
When I look at pictures of Planet Earth, swirling alone in the seemingly endless emptiness of space, the important questions we should ask are not political in nature but human. These questions do not win arguments. People don’t line up at the polls to vote for them. This is why the important questions get laughed at. We see so many angry people on the television talking about money and taxes and shutting down the government.
We forget to really wonder what is important.
If a giant asteroid struck the Earth tomorrow, that would be it for humanity. After millions of years of evolution to become what we are today, we decided that looking to the skies and formulating a Plan B were not important. So we perish.
A super-virus created in the laboratory could wipe us out. Or if weapons of mass destruction fall into the wrong hands. (Not that there are any correct hands for them to be in).
This might be the perfect scenario, but what if, instead of finding trace amounts of radiation as SETI searches for, we actually get to communicate with aliens?
We could discover if the aliens had geo-political debates, either ongoing or solved.
What disagreements did they have?
Did they invent war?
And maybe most importantly, what things do they choose not to fight and kill over?
Is life only present where there is carbon, water, and oxygen? Or could there be ammonia-based, lava-breathing, plastic life forms?
What types of gods did their more primitive selves invent?
Are some of the aliens still waiting for certain ancient prophecies to be fulfilled?
Do they scan their skies for an alien messiah to come and cleanse them of their wrongdoings?
At which point in their history did they discover mathematics and language?
The questions could go on and on.
So, please don’t make fun of people thinking about the heavens. Don’t be fooled by believing our current political vitriol is really what matters. One day, humans will leave this planet, maybe forever, to go populate other worlds thousands of light years away. The current debate in Washington won’t matter in 100 years.
What will matter is when humans decide to come together as one. When the big question is “Are we going to survive as a species and a planet, or are we going to let our short-sighted ignorance destroy us?”
Honestly, the choice is ours.