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I first heard of manifest destiny, or the idea that Americans are designed, perhaps even ordained from above, to expand "from sea to shining sea," or even to take over the entire North American continent or the entire world, in eighth grade. Also known as "the philosophy that killed 100 million Native Americans." One student asked our teacher why this philosophy mattered, and she said that it was behind every war our country has entered into, as well as our continued funding of NASA and one day, even space colonization.

This puzzled me at the time, but now it just makes me irritated. What on earth gave America the right to even think about moving onto space when we've made such a mess of Earth? It's like being a marriage counselor when you just went through a messy divorce: there's the possibility that it could be done well, but it just seems very improbable. We're ever-eager to gain and mistreat new territory, even if it's not on this planet. Oh, and guess what, now space debris or "space junk" is becoming a huge problem. Wow, who couldn't have predicted that? I heard somewhere that we should use the moon as some kind of cosmic dumping ground. Nobody else is using it, right?

When humans finally made it into space, everyone was more interested in seeing pictures of Earth, particularly with "Earth Rising." It was so beautiful and colorful and pristine. Let's keep that focus here, on our unique planet, before we seek to go out and explore somebody else's.

May 2017

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