Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly lighten my fears that humanity is God’s failed experiment. Not that they are alone. Others have been cruelly struck by fate, or squeezed by tyrannies, or assailed by hunger and disease, or assaulted by selfishness and greed, yet managed to live decent loving lives. They too would be inspiring if only their stories could be told. But the story of Gabby Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, is being told, and as a measure of the human capacity for nobility it offers inspiration and hope.
These thoughts follow the recent airing of their ordeal on ABC’s “20/20,” Gabrielle Gifford’s first interview since being shot in the head by the madman who embodies all that can go wrong with a human being. She is both a tragedy and a miracle, two words that cannot be separated from her life, or from the very existence of humanity.
Life After People, a History Channel TV show that became a series, speculates on an Earth in which humanity suddenly disappears. Philip Wylie’s The Disappearance, speculates on an Earth which suddenly divides into two, each populated by only one sex. My personal speculations include an earth in which a
small band of true early humans living by the sea on the southern tip of Africa 200,000 years ago, is wiped out by a meteor strike or tsunami and how life on this planet would have fared without the species that became us.
It would not have been an Eden, or even close. The fight for survival would have been just as fierce, every individual and species against all others in the struggle we now term Darwinian. But it would be a world untouched by the deadly gift of high intelligence. South American and African rain forests would burgeon, temperate forests would blanket North America and Europe, Asia remain a vast land of startling
contrasts, Australia a continent of marsupials, never threatened by mammals transported there by migrating humanity.
Such an earth would have been a planet of stark drama and natural beauty. Were it discovered by an advanced race of enlightened space travelers, they would decline to land, leave it untouched, study it from afar, to marvel and reflect on their own defiled planet of origin, as Humano Sapiens may well do, if it manages to survive its self-depredations, escape its ruined planetary home, to find another planet or adapt to space,
For now, we can look to Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly whose deep tragedy and shining triumph prove that the human race is worth saving.