The universe just got a little bigger.
This last week, NASA discovered a new system of planets that breaks the record for “greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system,” according to a press release on the NASA website.
And we are a little bit closer to scientifically answering the question “are we alone,” which is a top priority for scientists, according to the press release.
Reading about it in the news, I wasn’t particularly surprised. Other potentially habitable planets have been discovered before, and from a gospel perspective, the idea of other earths and other people isn’t all that alien (pun definitely intended).
Instead, I was filled with a sense of awe, and a little dose of humility.
In Moses 1:8-10, Moses wrote that God chose only to show him this earth and all of the generations of people on it, for his benefit, though he taught Moses that there were other earths and other children.
“Now, for this cause, I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed,” he wrote, according to the scripture.
Understanding the scope of life on this earth and knowing other people are out there likely more numerous than we can comprehend is a humbling thing.
We live in an age where material comforts and technological advances have enabled us to live pretty successfully in a bubble. Because of the current political climate and seemingly constant tragedy happening on a global scale, it might even seem justified to live ignorantly absorbed in ourselves and our small sphere of influence.
We live day to day, enjoying a false sense of being and trading a life of awareness for a life within the confines of what we choose to see. While scientific minds are scrambling to widen our gaze, widen the scope of the knowable universe, we are effectively narrowing it.
It doesn’t all revolve around us.
We certainly have a moral obligation to take care of ourselves. Most of us are working to receive an education, and some are also busy with jobs and starting new families. Those things are important and are bound to keep us occupied, but self-absorption is a real problem.
Once we have made the decision to change, being less self-centered can manifest itself in many ways. Obviously, the most glaring way to root out selfishness in ourselves starts with learning more about Jesus Christ and working to be like him.
That aside, we can take the initiative to participate in volunteer student services on campus, or we can volunteer through other local organizations. We can faithfully pay tithes and fast offerings, and donate to other trustworthy charities for the improvement of local and global welfare.
We might decide to take a little more time out of our day to catch up with current affairs in order to make more educated decisions and be civically responsible. We could initiate a new friendship solely for the sake of including someone who seems lonely.
We can talk to others and work to understand and appreciate differences in culture, race and religion. Empathy is a powerful defense against apathy.
It might be as simple as focusing less on how much our social media reflects our like-ability and working instead to share things that uplift and inspire.
Whatever we do, the shift from “everything revolves around me,” to “how can I widen my gaze and effect change,” starts inward.