According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, two-thirds of the world’s population, including almost everyone in the continental United States and Europe, no longer see a starry sky where they live.
The reason: City lights prevent us from seeing much more than a canopy of gray shadows. What a pity. In rural or remote areas with little or no artificial lights, about 2,000 stars can be seen on a clear night, and the experience can be breathtaking.
Whether we credit God or physics, how can we avoid the conclusion that our cosmos is governed by forces that dwarf anything our simple species can muster? How can we not feel like transitory snowflakes in a universe that measures time in billions of years and space in trillions of miles?
At the same time, a star-filled sky can be both empowering and inspiring. It can cause us to ponder the meaning and purpose of our lives, and it has ignited the imagination of poets, philosophers, theologians, and scientists for centuries.
It’s bad enough that the technology of contemporary civilization prevents us from seeing the extraterrestrial stars. It’s worse when we allow the shallow values and frenetic pace of modern society to prevent us from seeing and following the aspirations and principles that are our own internal guiding stars.
Every day we’re challenged to rise above petty office politics, senseless family conflicts, negative emotions, and unbridled ego so that we can live our lives large and be worthy of our place in the universe.
We may not be able to see the stars by looking up, but if we close our eyes and look inward, we can find and follow the best within us.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.
Also, read Michael Josephson’s commentary, Appreciating Appreciation.