Gardeners of the Stars

    I hope that one day humanity will assess its gifts, its skills, and its history, and come to the conclusion that our purpose in this world is to cultivate and create life.

    Certainly, this is what we have always done — not just in procreating, but in our efforts to domesticate animals, to breed new kinds of creatures, to grow plants and fruits and pets that would never survive in the wild. This has been with mixed results, but I think at the root of those impulses was the urge to bring more goodness into the world.

    Our efforts extended farther. For our entire history, we have been telling each other stories, making up new ones as we went along. People worked hard to come up with new ideas, new thoughts which could be passed on to future generations, built on by their children and grandchildren.

    These stories were very much a way of creating new life. New ways of being were born from them, new societies grew from their telling.

    Other humans explored, leaving behind their villages and their cities to plant the seeds for civilization in the deserts and unknown expanses. They crossed seas and mountains, and overcame fears and limitations to reach the places others were afraid to go.

    Whether through exploration, agriculture, or story-telling, all humans have tried to create life.

    I hope that we continue that. I hope that society recognizes this as our purpose, and begins to focus our efforts and energies in this one direction. Maybe then war would quiet, maybe the background nihilism of our time would lift, maybe the self-destructive tendencies of the young and old would vanish.

    But if we do embrace this, it will eventually require that we leave our planet. Just like the explorers before us, leaving their homes and villages, we will need to venture out into the universe to plant new worlds. I hope that as we do so, we will bring life where there is none, encourage whatever life we may find, and if we encounter any other sentient beings out there, join with them in cultivating the universe.

    Maybe there will be planets where we allow whales to flourish and grow, giving them free reign of vast oceans. Maybe there will be planets where we bring back creatures the earth has lost, like the saber-toother tiger or the wooly mammoth. Maybe we will create environments for them, and allow them to live and grow and develop in ways they never had the chance to.

    Maybe we will watch them from afar, enjoying the experience of each of their beautiful and unexpected lives.

    Perhaps hundreds of thousands of years from now, we will be watching over millions of worlds.

    In the end, this is the only way to escape turning inward, becoming obsessed with self-gratification, decaying into a futile and worthless species. If we do not go out, if we do not generate, we will become masturbatory and disgusting. And when we can stand ourselves no longer, we will die by our own hand.

    But if we do embrace what is out there, all the beauty that is possible, then we will become a species that knows the joy of watching life flourish on massive scales. We will become the parents of worlds, the gardeners of the stars, living in the spaces between, ecstatically watching over all the creatures in our care.