I just want to talk to you here about the answers that are really, really simple. It’s not easy, but they are simple. Because our problems seem so complex, and I think that’s why everybody is having such a problem right now, because out of the day-to-day burdens, you know, some people are out of work, just going to the grocery stores, going to the grocery stores and seeing the price of food now, how much stress is that adding?
How much stress is that adding to already tough relationships or people who have addictions or just the guilt of life that washes over you? My gosh, it’s tough. Then you add on top of all of that stress, all of the national and global problems. You have unrest. You have war. You have disease. You have the division. I mean, the guy who is the nephew of the guy who died of the Ebola virus, he was black. He was on CNN and said if this would have been a white guy, they wouldn’t have let him die. Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me.
All of these things are happening right now, and they are so big, none of us can get our arms around. And it makes us feel small but in a bad way because sometimes it’s good to remember how small we really are. And I want to explain this. I think this is because we’ve stopped looking up.
We gather in our cities. We are surrounded by massive skyscrapers, monuments to man. And when I was in New York City just a couple of weeks ago, I was walking down the street, and I look up, and all these huge, huge buildings. And I was amazed at what man could do, but you don’t see anything other than planes, which another monument to man, you don’t see anything in the night sky because the lights of the city block everything out. Maybe you see the clouds, but that’s it.
But if we would just stop for a second and fix our eyes above the clouds, if we would look way up into the sky, and we would take the time to do what we used to do when we were kids and see the artistry, the canvas in the sky that is so grand and so vast, a brilliant masterpiece, something that we cannot get our arms around in a good way. Our cute little buildings pale in comparison. We look at our buildings, we’re like that’s nothing, look at what that is. And then you start to ask the hard questions.
This summer, I went camping with my kids at the ranch. I don’t know what it is, but, you know, we had warm, comfortable beds inside, but instead we went and put sleeping bags out on the ground. And we all smelled like smoke, and we all slept on a rock, but there was something good about it. And I think what’s good about it is that time sitting here cooking your food, smelling the smoke, and as the fire starts to go down, looking up and having conversations about the sky and then laying down in the sleeping bag at night and telling stories.
I mean, we told stories all night, and I told, you know, ghost stories all night like this. And being able to sit there and look up at the sky, eventually it becomes quiet, and it is humbling to look out into the universe and realize the earth is just a mere flicker in the sky to some planet even in our solar system, and humanity is just a tiny, tiny speck on that flicker.
Now you’re starting to feel small, but just wait, because when you see the planets, and they look so small, and you can identify the planets, when you compare the earth to the rest of the solar system, now you really start to feel small. I saw this this morning driving in. I saw this comparison and some of the pictures from the Hubble telescope, and I thought look at the earth compared to Saturn and Jupiter, okay? Now throw in the sun. Look at how small we are compared to the sun.
But even the sun is small when you look at another sun, Sirius, in another solar system in our galaxy. When you see our sun next to some of these other suns in our galaxy, you realize we are nothing, and what we see with our naked eye really is nothing. It’s scratching the surface.
Years ago, they launched something called the Hubble telescope, and it was put up there to get past all of the light pollution of the earth and really look up into the heavens. And it captures the images of the universe. It used an infrared camera recently to zero in on a very small space, a little area that’s right by the moon. There is the moon. You can see right next to it a little teeny area that appeared to be empty.
The area is one-tenth the size of the moon. So what could we find in the dark looking up in that little teeny space? Well, they took photographs of that tiny little area, and they zoomed deeper and deeper and deeper into the universe, deeper than anything ever before using an exposure time, leaving that camera open for 23 days, capturing as much light as they could. They captured color images, and then they began to really look at them.
The results are mind-boggling. Remember, this is an area that looks like it’s blank, a little empty space, even to the Hubble telescope, a sliver of the sky less than 1% of the size of the area of the moon. In that area, it actually contained 5,500 galaxies that we could see and count, not stars, galaxies, not solar systems, galaxies. Each of those little dots in that picture of the Hubble telescope, invisible to you and me, is the entire galaxy that contains billions of its own stars.
Look at how many galaxies there are, billions of stars and planets. One of the galaxies they found is so big that it contradicts the current scientific theory. They once said before they saw this a galaxy cannot be that big because it will just fly apart. This thing is absolutely enormous. They didn’t think it could even exist, yet it does. So even the very best minds in the world don’t have the answers. They don’t even have close to the answers, and yet we listen to them and build monuments to the men of the earth when really maybe we should spend more time in the dark by a fire with our kids looking up and pondering.
How many of these empty spaces are there? Imagine all that is just outside of the envelope of earth that we can discover—thousands more galaxies in each little sliver of space, trillions and trillions more stars. This is just one tiny empty space in the sky. Now we are beginning to feel how small we are. If the problems of the day make you feel small, oh, look up; get away from the cities and look up.
With every passing moment in the universe, it expands, which means we’re getting even smaller. We are small, but don’t mistake small for insignificant. We are also truly unique. There are so many things that divide us: color, language, race, income, you name it, whatever it is. When you think about it, we are in the most exclusive club in all of the universe. We’re humans. We’re earthlings. Life…out of trillions of stars and countless galaxies, to the date, we’re the only sign of life. There is nothing even close.
If we happen to find one of us, somehow or another we were transported onto one of these distant galaxies, can you imagine finding—I could meet President Obama. He would be out in space, and I suddenly join him there, and I’d be like, “My gosh, earthling…” We have everything in common.
Life is a ridiculously awesome miracle, and yet we don’t even notice that anymore. We don’t value life. With each passing day, we seem to devalue life, and we begin to believe our problems are so huge, they’re not even our problems. Our biggest problems in the world are still unbelievably small. And how many of us even get down—we never worry about the earth crashing into the sun.
I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me. If God can create all of this, if God can keep everything in order and built everything to stay in order, and none of us fly off the earth, the earth doesn’t spin out of control, how is it we don’t have faith that he could handle us making it to the next payday?
Life is a miracle. If you believe that some molecules just got together in some bowl of primordial soup, guess what, you may not believe in God, but you believe life is a miracle too because that’s even more miraculous than if a really smart something created us. The point is we have more in common than not. Why are we at each other’s throats right now? The bonds that bring us together are stronger than those that tear us apart.
If we would all just take the time to fix our gaze beyond the relatively feeble monuments to man and stop listening to those who seek to divide us, and if our voices are those divisive voices, we stop, maybe we can find a way back to each other. Minimum wage, income inequality, the name of a stupid football game, really? Republicans, Democrats, you’ve got to be kidding me.
We’re in the most unique club in the universe. Surely our existence amounts to more than what the minimum and maximum salary someone can earn is. Surely we can start to aim higher. Surely life is worth it.
I really truly believe as I spent the summer with my kids out by a fire a lot like this, except ours didn’t strangely have a yellow light bulb in it, and then when I went to New York, and I looked up in the sky that was covered by the lights of man, I really came to the conclusion that I think one of the reasons we can see the stars is they were placed in the sky to humble us, to remind us our huge problems are just tiny, tiny particles, easily handled by the one who spoke all of this into existence and to remind us to look up, because when we do, our solutions are very, very simple.
Just look past the buildings. Look beyond ourselves. Get the proper perspective on what really matters.