Our View: Eclipse provided brief moment of unity for nation
With all the divisiveness in our country right now, it’s nice to know that a simple celestial event can bring us together — even if it’s just for a day.
We call it simple because, honestly, Monday’s solar eclipse was merely the result of heavenly bodies going through the motions. It’s bound to happen, and to a creature that lives hundreds of years, it must appear fairly tame.
For many of us, the eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime event. From our vantage point on island Earth, the moon passed in front of the sun, causing strange shadows and leading thousands of people to don protective eyewear that let them safely view the event.
Looking back, it wasn’t that big a deal. The sun appeared to get bit. Then a little more disappeared, like a child slowly munching at a cookie. At its height only a sliver remained.
However, this seemingly tame event was enough to disrupt the normal course of business for thousands of Americans as they traveled to a spot where they could see a total solar eclipse. People cried, tears dripping down their faces, as they witnessed the moon blot out the sun and turn day into eerie twilight.
People have described a solar eclipse as life-altering. Witnessing it can fill the chest with emotion and cause a religious-like response.
No doubt Monday’s event shaped the future of many small children who, decades from now, will have careers focused on the stars. One day they might travel to them.
On a less philosophical level, the eclipse thankfully dominated the news cycle and social media on Monday, pushing the rancorous and trite to the background for a while.
President Donald Trump, Congress, Russia, debt ceiling, border wall, Confederate monuments — all were displaced for the day in favor of Luna obscuring Apollo.
Hopefully, if of age, you enjoyed a glass of vino in celebration of the event.
There’s a bad joke here: What do we need for Americans to set aside their differences for a day? A solar eclipse?
Turns out, yes, we do. We are so divided as a nation that we need our planet’s only satellite to cross in front of the source of all life on this planet to get a little perspective on the human condition.
Maybe it’s because eclipses come round so rarely that they make us realize how small our problems actually are. Those who viewed Monday’s eclipse shared an experience that’s occurred in the sight of humans only a handful of times.
Babylonians recorded eclipses on stone tablets. On Monday, you might have snapped a photo of one on your phone.
The event captured our imaginations and made dreams. It moved in front of our political landscape and for a brief time covered all the issues that divide us.
This eclipse focused our attention on one celestial moment and hid all labels of Republican and Democrat in that finite space. It coalesced a disparate population into one nation with a single goal — to watch the rare, fantastic spin of a distant rock block the sun.
And then, too soon, it drifted away.
The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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“There is a cult of ignorance in this country … nurtured by the false notion that ‘my ignorance is as good as your knowledge.'” — Isaac Asimov, 1980.