To the Better End: How the Middle Can Improve the End

18 Feb

Neil deGrasse Tyson: “…[generational spaceships produce] interesting ethical questions … to bring an entire generation of humans into the world whose only mission is to bring another generation into the world with a goal that they will never see.”

Chuck Nice: “In a way, Neil, that is [the] kind of the spaceship that we’re on right now.”

Neil: “So you’re saying we already have a generation that we birth … and we train them to try to figure stuff out, and then we die off, and we will never know where that ends.”

Chuck: “…Absolutely! And we are all just doing that on a giant rock that’s floating through space on a destination to who knows where.”

Neil: “Actually, it’s not even …. [it is] just going around…”

Chuck: “…just going around in circles. We are the NASCAR of space travel right now!”

From a StarTalk episode on generational spaceships

Chuck nails it. We are the middle generations on a “spaceship.” We likely won’t get to answer the deepest questions like how something came from nothing. Our value lies in how well we provide three things to the next generation. 1. Nurturing a deeper inclination and greater ability to explore the deepest questions. 2. Leaving the next generation with better tools and more time to explore. 3. Giving them better skills to improve the world on all those fronts for the generation that comes after them.  

Based on the criteria above, we haven’t made enough progress. We have given people leisure time but also addictions to fill their leisure and not enough tools to choose wisely. We have also probably failed to instill a greater appreciation of the pleasures of answering the deepest questions. And we continue to leave the next generation with the burden of solving complex problems like climate change. We must rectify these failures if our lives must matter, if we are to be more than the NASCAR going around and around the track. 

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