August 14, 2017
This morning, Donald Trump made no mention of the terrible violence that rocked at the core of our country's values in the heart of Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and leaving dozens injured. Instead he made aggressive "Tweets" to Democrats, a black CEO who resigned from his position in Trump's Business Council, and re-tweeted news from Axios and Fox & Friends. In response, because we all need to find solace, and hope that this horror will not define us as a country, I wrote this as if it was a speech a real American president would give.
In 1968, America was in a moment of terrible disunity. In April, Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated by a racist at a motel in Tennessee, leaving a chasm in the heart of the civil rights movement and the march toward equality. And while this terrible act of racial hatred was still vivid in the minds of America, Robert Kennedy was killed in June, deepening the fractures in our civic body and pulling the bowstring on our patience close to snapping.
That summer was hot: the humid air of Chicago met with the passion of protesters at the Democratic National Convention. Viet Nam was depleting our country of generation of young men far from home, only to return to a hostile landscape that appeared to not respect their great sacrifices under America's flag.
It felt as though America was disintegrating into a million jagged pieces.
But on December 21—the winter solstice, the day when our hemisphere grows the light toward spring—a little space capsule with three astronauts left our planet on a trajectory that would forever change the way we observers would view our home.
Those three astronauts—Frank F. Borman, II,James A. Lovell, Jr.,William A. Anders—were the first human beings to view our small blue planet from so far away that they could see it whole, floating in space like a fragile gem glittering in the darkest night.
And on December 24, 1968, those three men wrestled over the camera to take one of the most important photographs ever recorded: the Earth—our home—rising above the moon’s stark horizon.
In that photograph, our citizens—the citizens of the whole world—saw how truly there are no borders upon our small home dangling alone in the vast reaches of space.
There is no division as oceans meet the lands.
There are only clouds that drift endlessly over her surface in a dance of life, bringing the waters rising and falling upon her, washing us clean, keeping us whole.
The quiet peace of that photo, one beautiful sphere in an inky endless night, made humanity take stock of her limits, her fragility, her beauty. And for the first time in human history, we were allowed to look down upon this mystery and find it is truly only one home to share among us all.
The terrible tragedy that struck in Charlottesville is an aberration to this ideal. There is no room on this small planet for hate when there are so many other mountains to climb.
So mourn the loss of Heather Heyer, who sacrificed herself in her quest for justice and equality, and then honor her by doing the very thing she gave her life for: peaceful gathering to speak out against hatred, to work toward finding common ground, and caring for one another on this fragile, exquisite soil.
On Christmas of 1968, each astronaut on the Apollo 8 read a part of Genesis back to our small planet. And in a gesture of spontaneous reflection, Commander Borman said, "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth."
To all of us on the good Earth, we shall not lets the divisiveness of a few angry men and women define the desires of us all: freedom from harm, succor in a fair rule of law, and equality upon this planet, our home.