On Cosmic Decentralization

I think there is something ego-sucking about cosmic decentralization, and I don’t know if we have all handled it as well as we should going forward. Reading about it got me thinking about the sorts of human decentralization most of us go through as kids. Robert Fulghum, in his All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (this is not a direct quote, I don’t have the book anymore), mentioned a teacher asking her kindergarten class which of them were singers, dancers, drummers, actors, painters, etc., and virtually every kid raised their hand for each talent; they were all singers, dancers, painters, etc. Later, asking a group of older students, only a few – the ones who were actually trained in each talent – raised their hands. They had been trained to stop thinking that they could do everything, and they seemed to accept this in stride. Of course, you don’t have to be a singer to sing, or a dancer to dance, or a painter to paint, but that’s a different argument. My point goes in another direction.

Cosmologically, it might be best if we were a little bit quicker to accept that we have the stray limitation or two. The earth doesn’t have to be the center of the universe to matter to earthlings; the Milky Way doesn’t have to be the only galaxy to still be a cool name for a candy bar; and even the universe itself doesn’t have to be the only universe to justify building another Starbucks. Every cosmological decentralization has been followed quickly by a tantrum (or worse) from various groups who have had a hard time fitting new data into their old views. I would hope that we, like our children, will eventually learn that we aren’t everything, and focus on learning how to be something.

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