Monday, August 21, 2017


Oftentimes, I have found myself defending what seems to have become somewhat of an extreme minorty position, namely the belief that, ultimately, humanity can transcend its national divisions and that people everywhere should be able to enjoy the same fundamental democratic and social rights. As such, it was particularly heartwarming when my Australian co-author made me aware of the letter that Jimmy Carter wrote for the Voyager 1 space probe in 1977. While my views on Carter may otherwise not be the most favourable given his role in blocking advanced nuclear technologies that could have been crucial in the fight against climate change, the letter is worth quoting in full:

“This Voyager spacecraft was constructed by the United States of America. We are a community of 240 million human beings among the more than 4 billion who inhabit the planet Earth. We human beings are still divided into nation states, but these states are rapidly becoming a single global civilization.

We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some – perhaps many – may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:

This is a present from a small distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts, and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.

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