Blame it on Copernicus

I watch the BBC Global News every night, and more and more, I’m thinking about Copernicus.

Nikolai Copernicus published De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (English translation: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), in 1543. And the collective human mind, so to speak, wasn’t happy. Before Copernicus, the general public thought of the earth as being the center of everything. The sun turned around our planet, as did the moon. We were the center of it all. So the idea of making earth peripheral to the sun was radical. Forty-one years later, Giordano Bruno expanded Copernicus’ model, arguing that the stars we see in the night sky are other suns, with planets revolving around them. He was executed as a heretic in 1600. Galileo published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems in 1632 “with formal authorization from the Inquisition and papal permission.” Still, he died in 1642 under house arrest for heresy.

During the tumultuous century or so between Copernicus’ model and a universal acceptance of it, the collective mind convulsed from the trauma of discovering its subordinate position in relation to space and time. This universal change of mind is commonly called a Paradigmatic Shift. Graduate students and college professors joke about paradigmatic shifts all the time over a beer, but I’m currently not laughing. I’d say we’re having one.

Thanks to the James Webb Space Scope and the emergence of global social media, people all around the world are currently being forced to change their perceptions of time and space in two different ways. First, and most significantly: with each new image from outer space, our planet and our solar system shrinks. That Sun In The Middle Of Eight Planets Solar System Carnival Ride-Like Celestial Model is no longer valid. Hell, we’re watching stars exploding.

from The Guardian 9 January 2023

Simultaneously, we’re able to watch global news as it happens: Russia, destroying the Ukraine as it tries to reclaim former empirical cities; national and world leaders acting like five year old boys on the playground. There’s social upheaval in Iran. In the U.S.A., we’re bickering over identity. Gender identity. Individual identity. National identity. Regional Identity. Social identity. Political identity. We’re hanging on a thread between Democracy or Autocracy, as Jonathon Capehart has said. As if anyone cares anymore. On some level, everyone realizes that thinking about Earth as separate states, nations, even continents, is not viable anymore.

The transition we’re going through, whether we like it or not, asks us to give up our petty differences and recognize ourselves as global citizens. The earth can still nurture us, if we nurture it. If we want our children and grandchildren to enjoy our beautiful home, we’re all responsible for our planet’s survival.

Based on the last time humanity shifted paradigmatically, it could take a century for humanity to make this intellectual transition. I wonder if we have that much time left?

Wikipedia, “Nicolaus Copernicus

2 thoughts on “Blame it on Copernicus

  1. As Martin Luther King said in his Christmas Sermon in 1967:
    “it really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half of the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

    I hope you are well!


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