Dear Richard Branson,
You have the power to save the world.
If you choose to accept the mission. The fate of humanity depends on your vision and your charity.
You, Mr. Branson, are one of the world’s leading visionaries and entrepreneurs. Also, I’ve heard you are quite the jet-setting playboy. Your ventures into the world of music, mobile technology and travel are admirable and commendable.
And soon, you are taking people into space. Regular, average, mundane people. Well, average millionaires, but still, science fiction has become reality.
The pricetag for a trip to space is about a quarter of a million dollars. That’s a little more than I have in my bank account right now. It’ll likely be a while before I’m taking my trip into the lesser gravities.
I’m kind of embarrassed to even bring this up, Mr. Branson. A man of your education and stature has surely heard of this. So don’t be insulted.
But I wanted to tell you about the Overview Effect, a psychological state first named in the 1980s by author Frank White.
It’s a conclusion that many human space-travelers reach once they are in orbit around our small, blue, delicate ball called Earth. Our disagreements and conflicts seem so trivial once you see the entire world miles beneath you. The boundaries we’ve drawn on our planet become meaningless, people’s genders and nationalities fade away, arguments seem stupid.
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell said, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.”
Sir Richard Branson, here is your call to action. Your Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo will hold six passengers and travel about 70 miles above Earth. That’s fantastic.
I was wondering if you could waive the $250,000 fee for a few people. Just pick out six world leaders with influence. Give them all a free ticket, let them float in zero-gravity in the Thermosphere, see the delicate little blue planet below, then bring them back.
That’s all. See what happens. If we get good results, if the leaders experience the Overview Effect, you’ve just given humanity the greatest gift imaginable. In all of your entrepreneurial endeavors, probably none will be so mighty as space tickets.
Yeah. I know. I’m an optimist. I have this overwhelming drive to believe in the best of humanity and its people. It appears to have worked in other cases. So why not again?
So, Richard Branson, what’s it going to be?
A few more million dollars? I seriously doubt you need it? Or to (possibly) go down in history as the man who gave geo-political leaders a new world. We either need to start working together in better ways, or we will perish.
I know which one I would choose.
The ball is in your court, Mister Branson. Oh, and that ball is our tiny, remote, lonely, fragile world we call Earth.