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Our world feels like it’s coming apart at the seams; we’re pitted against each other over hot-button, personal topics—neighbor against neighbor, country against country. Perhaps it’s time to step off into space for an interlude, a moment of awe-struck perspective.

Alan Alda’s podcast Clear and Vivid, explores a galaxy of topics in which he masterfully circles around to the art of communication. In his March 28th episode, Alda spoke with astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Hadfield vividly recounts some of the amazing human experiences that he’s been lucky enough to experience: living for a time at bottom of ocean, being present in the delivery room when each of his three kids were born, and walking in space.

To be outside on a space walk, with the earth silent and bulging and textured and colored, and the eternity of the blackness, the bottomlessness of it and you’re this pipsqueak of nothing out there between the two of them (the earth and the spaceship) is a mind-boggling experience.

Chris Hadfield speaking with Alan Alda on Clear and Vivid

Indeed, I wondered. What must it be like to be inside the International Space Station? The space station is a complex collaboration between the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan, and all the participating countries of the European Space Agency that has spanned over 20 years; it is a microcosm of humanity. The astronauts and the agencies that support them must set aside their political and philosophical differences to live and work together, wholly dependent upon each other. How do American astronauts and technicians explain to their fellow travelers and technicians why one person is killed every 25 minutes by gun homicide or accidental shooting in this amazing country? How do they communicate to their colleagues of other nations, why a fetus is more vehemently protected than ten-year-old child? How do Russian astronaut Sergey Korsakov and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti talk about what is happening below them in The Ukraine? How do the support staff that keep them airborne navigate coffee breaks and team building exercises?

Those astronauts look down upon this beautiful blue dot and see first-hand the coating of pollution that humanity has created. All nations are guilty, some more than others, but we are all responsible for the havoc we wreak on the most beautiful planet in our solar system. Why can’t we set aside our petty differences and work together to solve the big problems that will inevitably take us all down, along with the amazing plants and animals that share our world?

If you need to distract yourself from the ugly dramas playing out before us, I recommend a visit to Mr. Hadfield’s website. You’ll find lots of fascinating technical information and a ton of fun videos. Listen to him sing David Bowie’s song from space. Hey, he even brushes his teeth in space the same way I brush mine when I’m backpacking! Schooled by the enormity of space, Hadfield brings us a hopeful refreshing perspective.

Sea off Mumbai, India by Chris Hadfield

Let’s work toward solutions not divisions.

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