by Robert Arvay
In reading the news, one can reasonably conclude that our earthly problems are immense. The world is on a tightrope between war and social collapse, where one slight misstep could result in catastrophe. Poverty and disease torment millions, and terrorism threatens us all. Sheesh! What a grim picture is this. Could the entire world come to ruin?
Planet earth is however, according to astronomers, but the tiniest drop of water in a vast, immense ocean of space and time. A telescopic photograph of a tiny patch of the night sky, taken as it were through the eye of a needle, reveals not merely millions of stars, but uncountable numbers of galaxies, each of which contains billions of stars. Even that provides but a tiny glimpse of the universe, most of which is beyond the reach of our most powerful telescopes.
Recently, enough planets have been discovered orbiting distant stars to support a suspicion that had long been held by scientists and science-fiction fans alike: the universe probably teems with planets, planets by the trillions upon trillions, including those in our own galaxy, and those in galaxies so far away that we cannot imagine the distances involved.
It hardly requires the imagination of a science-fiction fan to conclude that there are spectacular numbers of planets where life might exist, and if so, then one can only speculate how many of them might contain forms of life much like ourselves. Even if space aliens might not look like us on the outside, perhaps they are human-like on the inside, at the level of the soul. In that respect, there could be trillions of human-like civilizations in the universe.
In contemplating such a thing, we encounter a bit of a conundrum. Some have described our existence in the vast universe as being an insignificant part of the whole. Perhaps there is a mathematical validity to that, but on the other hand, nothing at all is insignificant—nothing. “Not a sparrow falls. . . .”
Being mathematically insignificant does not make insignificant the suffering of a single child, a single human being. For each and every one of us, our personal universe is a very small place, and for each of us, we are at the center of it all. Distant galaxies might explode, but that pales in comparison to a single toothache when no dentist is available.
How can we reconcile this seeming disparity between the personal and the universal? Even if a final answer forever eludes us, there is something that can help. Scientists have discovered something called non-locality, and something closely related to it, calledquantum entanglement. Basically, these ideas form a scientific concept that we non-scientists might express by saying, “everything is connected to everything else.” In scientific terms, it suggests that what happens at one part of the universe can instantly and directly affect something in a far distant galaxy. In social terms, it means that your misfortune is my misfortune.
It is easy, of course, to understand that the national economy is connected to our family budget. Losing your job due to a policy decision at the highest level of government will drive home that bitter fact. It is somewhat more difficult to connect the breakdown of family values to rising crime rates, but most of us can see that connection. Other connections are less obvious, but no less connected. For example, the argument that same-sex marriage will not harm traditional marriage is an argument that initially makes sense only because it is difficult to follow the chain of cause–and–effect through all the twists and turns of social interactions. It is easier for many people to accept that the spin of an electron on earth can instantly affect the spin of an electron in another galaxy far, far away, than to believe that the acceptance of one form of immorality breeds ever more immorality throughout society.
The next time you begin to feel insignificant, remember that your moral decisions have eternal consequence. You are the most important person in the universe, and so is everyone else. We are all connected. “Love one another.”
Robert Arvay is a Contributing Writer to The Patriot’s Notepad