To See Others as God Sees Us
(Posted June 2, 2023)
By Rev. Dr. Pat Kriss
“The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word round meant until I saw Earth from space. ” -- Alexey Leonov, Soviet Cosmonaut, First Person to Walk in Space
There’s a psychological effect that nearly every astronaut has experienced when they first see earth from the edge of space. The Overview Effect is known to profoundly change the men and women who have the privilege of seeing our planet, floating in space, and the way that they see other human beings after the experience.
Seeing from Another Perspective
A Beautiful World is a site dedicated to the science, philosophy and sheer beauty of truly seeing our planet from another perspective. The following is from A Beautiful World about the astronaut response:
“Many say they no longer identify with a specific nationality or culture after seeing earth from outer space, instead they see themselves, and all citizens on earth, as one people, living on one world.
The Overview Effect has been documented by numerous astronauts and cosmonauts, who describe seeing the Earth from in space first-hand like seeing ‘a tiny, fragile ball of life hanging in the void, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere.’”
I know from watching the most recent brief journey that selected people made to the edge of our atmosphere, that their immediate response when they saw the gossamer-thin layer of air separating us from the dark vacuum of space featured two emotions: both awe and fear. Awe because they never realized that such a thin veil protects us from chaos. Fear, because we here on earth blissfully ignore how fragile and unique our existence is, here in this corner of the universe.
Seeing People From an Earth-Bound Perspective
But back here on earth. there are times I wonder if we, as a species, are all that far removed from man’s early tribal existence – that part that scientists refer to as the “monkey brain” that only knows violence and warfare as a solution to “those other people” who aren’t like them, don’t talk like them, don’t worship like them, don’t love like them. It certainly feels that way.
Recently in our Sunday Service Vinay Christian asked us to pray for the people of East India, particularly for the Christians of the area who, since the beginning of this year, have been under full attack by the Hindu nationals in their towns. Our fellow Christians have had their houses burned, their churches vandalized or destroyed by fire.
The cause for all this ant-Christian hatred? Some people were choosing to become Christians when new missionaries arrived. A correspondent from the Washington Post reports: “That visit to the remote region — a day’s drive from the nearest airport — revealed the extent of the chaos and its uneasy aftermath. In villages, bruised and beaten Christian converts picked through the rubble of churches destroyed by mobs wielding sledgehammers. In dusty townships, Hindu nationalist leaders led impassioned rallies promising more action against Christian conversions. In an empty government gym of the dusty township of Narayanpur, evicted families including Salam’s sought refuge, sleeping on mats next to a few sacks of spare clothes and grain.”
Seeing People From God’s Perspective
Other than praying for all of these people, I just wish we could have both sides see our fragile planet from space, where it is apparent no boundaries can be seen between people, and the only thing that ALL people can sense is that the Eyes of God peer down on us from a spectacular universe. How petty all of our grievances must seem to our awesome Creator.
More on this topic Sunday.