There is nothing like a vacation to make you appreciate home.
This seemed to be the sentiment behind William Shatner’s words as he back from a short trip at space Wednesday. In Remarks filmed after his landing, the actor described having had “the most profound experience I can imagine”.
But his goal was not to boldly go where few have gone before. What impressed him the most was seeing the Earth – “that sheet, that blanket, that blue quilt that we have around us” – from afar. Space, according to Shatner, was “black ugliness,” a grim contrast to the beauty of our home planet. “You look down [at Earth], there’s the blue over there, and the black up there, that’s just – there’s Mother Earth and comfort, and there’s – is there … death? I do not know.”
It’s amazing. When Captain Kirk finally manages to take off, he ends up wondering where he’s come from.
This is perhaps even more remarkable considering that the driving force behind Shatner’s robbery – the man to whom he said, “I hope I never get over it” – is Jeff Bezos, founder of Shatner. ‘Amazon and owner of Blue Origin. Bezos nodded as Shatner rhapsodized, but his own approach to the future is quite different.
Bezos’ vision involves the colonization of space – a trillion people living far from our home planet, in “very large structures, for miles around”, which “are home to a million people or more each”. His belief, according to a 2019 presentationis that “the Earth is finished, and if the world economy and population are to continue to expand, space is the only way forward.” It doesn’t completely erase this planet – the presentation was titled Going into Space for Earth’s Benefit – but it seems to focus on the departure of humanity.
To be fair, Bezos also pledged to donate $ 10 billion to tackle the climate crisis (although he started a company whose carbon footprint in 2018 was the size of Norway). But maybe Shatner’s words can remind us that Earth is what we have and we have to fight for it. “That’s life,” Bezos said, echoing his passenger. Hopefully he believes it: with a little more help from those with infinite resources, we might even be able to snatch a few more years from this place. In the meantime, let’s celebrate where we live – below “that sheet, that blanket, that quilt of blue”.
“That Blue Quilt”: How Shatner’s Explosion in Space Became an Ode to Earth | William shatner
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