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Stars & 7 billion people


12Jan 2011

I recently have become more interested in and enamored with the stars.  I just received a book put out by National Geographic entitled Hubble: Imaging Space and Time with a lot of photos of stars, galaxies and nebulae from the Hubble telescope.  Although the following image isn’t from that book, it demonstrates the wonder I am finding in the stars.

At the same time that I am contemplating the incomprehensible enormity of the universe, I also am becoming more aware of how many people there are on earth.  This month’s National Geographic title story is about the fact that the earth’s population will surpass 7 billion during 2011.

I have had the privilege to travel across the U.S. this past year, and in many parts of the world previously.  As I fly across the globe, looking out the window of the planes at mountains, vast stretches of desert, farmland and oceans, the incredible size of the earth humbles me.  And when I then encounter hundreds and thousands of people in various settings, all living primarily in their relatively small world of daily life interactions – the sheer number of people alive today (as well as across history) becomes overwhelming.  This is especially true when I realize that the vast majority of people in the world live in dire circumstances – daily scrounging for food, water and work, living in squalor and poverty.

Again, my response is humility and gratitude for the blessings I experience every day:  a soft, warm bed without bugs, running water, indoor plumbing, a hot shower, any type of food I want, electricity, a car, work to do & be paid for, physical health, a loving wife, healthy kids, safety, political stability, religious freedom, clean clothes, money to buy what I need – the list can go on.

If you haven’t recently, take some time to reflect:  on the stars & the heavens, the moon & sun, the wonder of nature, on all the people in the world and their circumstances, and on all you have.   It helps put things in perspective and also raises important questions we each need to think about.

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