AT an average distance of about 150m Km from the Sun, the Earth completes a round trip around it in 365 days, 5 hours, 59 minutes and 16 seconds: that is one year. For convenience we leave it at 365 days yearly and add the extra quarter of a day up every four years – to the month of February, which becomes 29 days instead of 28 – and then call the 366 days a leap year. The next leap year is just next year, 2024 AD.
Although a Nazi rocket had captured the first image of Earth from space on October 24, 1946, the first ever photograph of Earth as a whole – The Blue Marble – was taken on December 7, 1972 by scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt as a crew member of the Apollo 17 mission on their way to the last landing on the moon. That iconic picture was taken from a distance of about 29,000 Kilometres away from Earth and no man has gone so far since then to take another, although pictures of the full earth abound from unmanned satellites, the most famous being “The Pale Blue Dot” taken by the Voyager 1 Space Probe as it turned around to have a last look at the Earth from a record distance of about 6 billion Kilometres away as it was about to leave our Solar System and continue its exploration into Space; that was on February 14, 1990.
From 29,000 Kilometres away, the Earth looks wonderful, beautiful and at peace with itself. As Bette Midler said in her classic soulful song “From A Distance,” “…there is harmony, and it echoes through the land… From a distance, we all have enough and no one is in need; and there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease; no hungry mouth to feed… From a distance, I just cannot comprehend what all this fighting’s for… And God is watching us.”
Down to earth from that distance, through the stormy atmosphere, you land squarely in the midst of unlimited, multiplicity of conflicts almost world over: except humans are not living there! Only few human societies, at the lead of which are the Scandinavian countries, know the semblance of order expected of communities populated by “man, the wise.” Among those almost completely lost in disorder, Nigeria – with all its abundant natural endowments – is now being unfortunately counted. Why?
Advances in science and technology, over the decade, today guarantees that life more abundant for majority of human being on earth is possible. It should, however, not perplex any discerning mind why majority of humanity live in poverty while an insignificant minority each has more than is needed by a million people to live well. Any production and social system that justifies and sustains this kind of inequality cannot but build a world of misery, chaos, violence, crime and strife. Governments are instituted amongst men simply to guarantee their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Complete equality of good fortune is never achievable anywhere, any time. However, an elite system of government, predominant in the world today, which is against egalitarianism but keen in keeping the majority toiling in ignorance and poverty and divided by religion, colour and tribe as to make their continued, relentless exploitation and oppression possible, is not only outdated, unjust and unsustainable but a harbinger for all kinds of resistance – sensible and senseless, organised and disorganised.
From time immemorial, in every human society, the advancement made in improving knowledge and human relations has always been credited to the efforts, selfless sacrifices and commitment of the patriots of that society; their enterprise and struggles. In our own small corner of the world called Nigeria, they have our salutations and best wishes as the earth commences another year journey around the sun. They have our admonition not to get tired but renew their strength in the struggle for a just world order.
The Earth continues its journey in space and time around the Sun, quite mindful and adjusting as it does to the calamities wrecked to its environment by Homo sapiens, “man, the wise.” Hopefully, this year will count more in favour of reason, against absurdities, locally and globally. We all must determinedly contribute to making it so. May it end on a fulfilling note for us all by December 31, 2023.