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‘To see ourselves as riders on the earth together…’

earthrise

Apollo 8 astronaut William A. Anders took this celebrated shot of the Earth “rising” on Christmas Eve in 1968. NASA photo

Fifty years ago, when man landed on the moon, The New York Times turned to a poet, Archibald MacLeish, to place the event into some sort of context on its front page.

Seven months earlier, when the astronauts of Apollo 8 had become, on Christmas Eve, the first humans to enter the moon’s orbit, Archibald MacLeish also interpreted the meaning of it all for the Times, but in prose.

He referred to humankind as “brothers,” as was common then. If you overlook that, his concluding paragraph is profound:

“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold — brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”

I pray that when we next visit the moon, it will be for the benefit of all humankind and not the personal glorification of one.

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