The 2017 Solar Eclipse did not disappoint. While it was cloudy where I was experiencing near-totality, the live stream from Carbondale, IL was awe-inspiring. So were the reactions from people who experienced the event in person. Complete strangers cried, hugged, yelled out in amazement, and rejoiced together at the shared experience. It was so much more powerful than sharing a video on facebook! Why? Because everyone experiencing the eclipse together shared a deep, emotional connection through their empathy for each other, and the entire physical universe around them. At a time when the very foundations and values of science are being questioned by forces of greed and self-interest, there was no more important reason and event to bring people together.
One of the great messages was shared by Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson:
The idea of everyone being united by a "cosmic event" that can be predicted by science, thus empowering us to have a powerful shared experience, is profound during these times of divisiveness.
I couldn't help but "tweet" out two important and progressive ideas evoked by the shared experience of the eclipse. First, the idea of thinking about something bigger than ourselves:
And finally, the idea that science shows us how amazing our universe is, all the while showing us how much we share with those around us - like a planet:
There are moments like these that demonstrate our humanity, and provide us an opportunity to strengthen empathy. We instinctively know that we all share more in common (such as a planet) than not. At moments like a solar eclipse, that commonality and shared experience strengthens the empathy we have for each other and our common destiny as a species on a very small planet.
The key for us as progressives is to find ways to evoke those powerful, unconscious emotions in regard to the issues we care about - consistently and on a regular basis!
Tomorrow - More specifics to evoke progressive values on current issues!