Bezos, Branson, and Musk have their sights set on space. These are smart, successful people who have a great deal of determination and wealth to fuel their dreams. Why does a trip to space beckon them so? Perhaps it’s an ego trip. The companies they have created will likely fade in the decades to come but making history puts them in the books for the ages, much like Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco Da Gama. Some say it is about exploration and discovery and the need to escape our troubled planet. I have trouble with this latter rationale.
There are plenty of great challenges to take on here and many places to explore on earth. Escape suggests that we’ve given up hope. Yet, the problem is truly not with the planet but we the people. Chances are that even if we are able to make it over and colonize Mars — a foreboding planet that has far less to offer in sustaining life than our troubled earth — we’ll be transporting our human limitations there — our capacity for greed, competition, and conflict.
The greater and more valuable expedition is to conquer inner space. By breaking out of our present-day consciousness, we can change the world within. With this shift, we are more able to constructively engage the challenges that we have rather than try to flee as far away as possible. With greater consciousness and compassion, we will be more equipped to transform our beautiful and miraculous world — that truly offers everything we can humanly need — into heaven on earth. If we then someday reach for the stars, it will not be to escape our shortcomings but to extend our best selves. That’s a trip I’d sign up for.