So, check this out; from the vantage point of space, there are no lines dividing nations, no geographical subdivisions, no flags or racial divides or disputed territories — there is only Earth.
In the short film “OVERVIEW,” produced by Steve Kennedy as part of the Planetary Collective series, we learn that the experience of earth-gazing and viewing the planet from outside of itself is profound in a way that goes far beyond the observation of atmospheric beauty.
By transcending our atmosphere, astronauts are able to experience a distinct cognitive shift that is commonly referred to as the Overview Effect:
It’s this great awareness of the interconnectivity of all terrestrial life and a sense of urgency to preserve it. As opposed to looking up at a blanket of bright blue that simply wraps us from one horizon to the next, they are able to see our entire planet wrapped in the thin tissue layer, also known as our atmosphere.
Interestingly, while we view a picture of Earth from afar and see an unadulterated and unified globe of existence, it is far more difficult for us to apply that same perspective at the ground level. We ignore manmade state lines, boundaries and conflicts. And due to through the interconnectivity of the internet we feel and experience the effects of racial discrimination, religious wars and extreme poverty more than ever.
Shouldn’t our many cultural differences be points of pride, instead they have been grown into points of contention that are “ill-conceived to address the the challenges of a hyper-connected world,” says Jason Silva in his YouTube video, ‘The Big Picture.’
So, if we are increasingly able to witness the world through others’ eyes, shouldn’t we also be able to gain the empathy and understanding needed to develop that strengthened worldwide community.
Even though we as individuals may never get to experience the view of Earth from space, this increase of technological advancements and connectivity just might be able to provide us with a more terrestrial version of the Overview Effect in which we recognise our frailty and see beyond our nationalities, our dogmas and our politics.
Just as Frank Kent, the author who gave name to the Overview Effect, states it plainly, “This idea is key to our survival: we have to start acting as one species with one destiny.”
Maybe one day we can acknowledge that every individual is a key component in Earth’s social and environmental ecosystem and strive to protect the Earth and one another, not as one group helping another but as one global tribe without borders.