Monday, June 19, 2006

It's Just A Ride

I posted a missive recently citing Stephen Hawking's insistence that we explore the stars at our earliest convenience. I also mentioned I had a few more things to say about this.

For whatever obscure reason, stand-up comedian Bill Hicks comes to mind first. I've always found Hicks' stand-up as funny as Dennis Leary's (and certainly as irreverent), and if you've never seen or heard of Hicks, it's probably because he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 33.

What made Hicks stand apart from most comedians was his sense of wonder about the world and the unique way he depicted his views of it. He sometimes described his act as "Chomsky with dick jokes". Hicks ended one of his last performances with a speech which Hawking would certainly have enjoyed hearing:

The world is like a ride at an amusement park and when you choose to go on it, you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down and round and round, it has thrills and chills, it's very brightly colored and it's very loud and it's fun... for awhile.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question, Is this real? Or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered and they come back to us and they say, Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever... because this is just a ride. And we... kill those people. Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry. Look at my big bank account and my family. This has to be real. It's just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try to tell us that—you ever notice that?—and let the demons run amok.

But it doesn't matter because... it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money—a choice, right now, between fear and love.

The eyes of fear—once you put bigger locks on your door, buy guns—close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride: take all that money we spend on weapons and defence each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we can explore space, together—both inner and outer—forever, in peace.

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