IN JUNE OF 2008, I CLAMPED MY FEET to the end of the robotic arm (Canadarm-2) on the International Space Station. With me in this position, the arm was flown through a maneuver we called the “windshield wiper,” which took me across a long arc above the space station and back. At the top of this arc, I was 100 feet above the space station looking down at this incredible accomplishment of humanity against the backdrop of our indescribably beautiful Earth, 240 miles below. Seeing the absolute beauty of the planet we have been given was a very moving experience. But as I looked down at this beautiful, fragile oasis—this island that protects all life from the harshness of space—I couldn’t help but think of the inequity that exists. The people who don’t have clean water to drink, enough food to eat, and the social injustice, conflicts, and poverty that exists. When we see our Earth from the orbital perspective, we are struck by an undeniably sobering contradiction. On the one hand, we see the absolute beauty of our planet, and on the other, there are the unfortunate realities of life on this planet that affect a significant portion of her inhabitants.
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