“If You Want To Build a Ship…”

If you want to build a boat, don’t begin by collecting wood, cutting boards, or assigning tasks. Begin by awakening in the souls of your workers a longing for the vast and boundless sea.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Another version from this Frenchman reads

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea

Or this translation from French to English:

If you want to build a ship, don’t summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs, and organize the work; teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean.

As I have written before, there is a longing for the sea built into our genome.  Many believe life originated in the primordial waters of an ancient earth.

According to the theory, as the countless centuries rolled into the various epochs of history, life evolved to where it is today.  Of course, there are many life forms which did not survive the various upheavals of the past or what in geological terms is referred to as the five extinction periods.

Today we are living in the sixth extinction crisis or period.  Unlike the other five in geological time, this one is attributed to humans and their spread across the globe.

“In the past 500 years, we know of approximately 1,000 species that have gone extinct, from the woodland bison of West Virginia and Arizona’s Merriam’s elk to the Rocky Mountain grasshopper, passenger pigeon and Puerto Rico’s Culebra parrot — but this doesn’t account for thousands of species that disappeared before scientists had a chance to describe them. Nobody really knows how many species are in danger of becoming extinct. Noted conservation scientist David Wilcove estimates that there are 14,000 to 35,000 endangered species in the United States, which is 7 to 18 percent of U.S. flora and fauna. The IUCN has assessed roughly 3 percent of described species and identified 16,928 species worldwide as being threatened with extinction, or roughly 38 percent of those assessed. In its latest four-year endangered species assessment, the IUCN reports that the world won’t meet a goal of reversing the extinction trend toward species depletion by 2010…”   http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

Humans have not tended to cultivate the sanctity of life for life forms on this planet traversing the cosmos.  The sport of killing animals has always been the inclination of a great number of human hunters.

It is one thing to kill an animal for food in order to survive.  It is totally another deed of avarice to kill an animal for the fun of it.

In the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park Roland Tembo, the Big Game Hunter from Africa, declares a profound truth about humans:

Somewhere on this island is the greatest predator there ever lived. The second greatest predator must take him down.

Tembo is referring of course to the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex which has been made the villain in countless movies.  The T-Rex ranks up there with Godzilla for movie monsters.

However, unlike the T-Rex Godzilla was the product of nuclear testing in the ocean by humans.  Perhaps, Godzilla was a potent symbol of how devastating it can be when humans play with the secrets of the cosmos, and the hell which such experiments can lead to for the isolated humans on this pale blue dot.

The choice has never been clearer. If we carry on polluting our planet with dirty energy, our children will pay the greatest price. Filthy air is already killing hundreds of thousands every year. Flooding, drought, wildfires and hurricanes—all you have to do is open your eyes to see the damage being done, and it’s going to get worse.”  Robert Redford, October 4, 2015– https://www.ecowatch.com/robert-redford-pope-francis-is-right-climate-change-is-a-moral-imperat-1882106403.html

In the last several years most of us have experienced severe weather or other chaotic interlopers.  On the news we have watched the tide of human misery caused by nature’s fury as well as humans who have forced tens of thousands from their homes.

Human misery is on a universal scale now.  In the wake of these events life seems to continue for those unaffected as they enjoy the bountiful harvests of earth and the wellsprings of fresh water as other children, women and men suffer for a morsel of food and a clean drink of water.

Going back to the quote about building a ship, we need a longing to return to the sea of life.  We must do what we can to repair the breaches in the biosphere.

It is the only biosphere we have; in order to survive we must repair and preserve it.  One can dream of sailing to the stars and settling worlds unknown, but unless our planet is habitable for a future generation, the dreams will be just ashes found on the floor of a forest which existed before the fires.

The pale blue dot will fade with the sunset of humans too occupied with themselves to deter the wrath of nature, the T-Rex of what is over the event horizon.  The Godzilla of tomorrow will be our careless decisions of today.


G. D. Williams       © 2018

POST 769


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (June 29, 1900- July 31, 1944)

French aviator and author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry documented his adventures as a pilot in works such as ‘Wind, Sand and Stars’ and ‘The Little Prince.’


Saint-Exupéry came from an impoverished aristocratic family. A poor student, he failed the entrance examination to the École Navale and then studied architecture for several months at the École des Beaux-Arts. In 1921 he was conscripted into the French air force, and he qualified as a military pilot a year later. In 1926 he joined the Compagnie Latécoère in Toulouse and helped establish airmail routes over northwest Africa, the South Atlantic, and South America. In the 1930s he worked as a test pilot, a publicity attaché for Air France, and a reporter for Paris-Soir. In 1939, despite permanent disabilities resulting from serious flying accidents, he became a military reconnaissance pilot. After the fall of France (1940), he left for the United States; he remained there until 1943, when he resumed flying with his former squadron in the Mediterranean theatre. In 1944 he took off from an airfield in Corsica to conduct a reconnaissance mission over France and never returned. Sixty years later, wreckage raised from the seabed near Marseille was identified as belonging to his plane. It had probably been shot down by an enemy fighter, though the cause of the crash may never be known.   https://www.britannica.com/biography/Antoine-de-Saint-Exupery



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