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Riders on the Earth Together

Riders on the Earth Together

January 15, 2010, Broadcast #4192

The turbulent year of 1968 ended on an inspiring note with the spectacular space flight of Apollo 8. It was the first manned mission to orbit the moon, and as the astronauts looked out of their vessel into space, they suddenly caught sight of the earth rising over the moon’s horizon, “a blue and white orb sparkling in the blackness of space, in contrast to the dead lunar surface in the foreground.” People at home saw our amazing planet in television images and photographs and marveled at what they saw. The poet Archibald MacLeish was so moved that he wrote in the New York Times, “To see the Earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the Earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold-brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”
We don’t need to see our spinning planet from afar to remember that we all share this earth as our home. Yes, we live in different communities in different climates; we cherish different cultures and beliefs; we have different expectations. But we are each part of the great human family, and like any family, we’re happiest when we live by certain universal principles–when equality and fairness govern our actions, when charity and compassion motivate our efforts, when goodwill and generosity guide our attitudes. A little more of each of these virtues can make a world of difference.

This truth is expressed simply but beautifully in a lyrical paraphrase of John Donne’s memorable meditation:

No man is an island;
No man stands alone.
Each man’s joy is joy to me;
We need one another,
So I will defend
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.

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