The Nature of Us That Most Do Not Want to See

Detail of the globular cluster Messier 92 (M92) captured by Webb’s NIRCam instrument.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Funny how we can learn so very much
About the nature of things
While ignoring so very much
About the nature of us!

As it turns out, the state of technology is not
Our only limitation in understanding how things are.

As the scientists among us continue to
Work out the puzzles of the cosmos—
Using the finest instruments man can devise—
A great many of us common folk
Habitually exhibit a serious bent
Toward assuming that each latest stop
Along this highway to understanding
Must be practically the end of it,
With whatever the remaining number of stops
Being dismissed with a smug wave of the hand.

And we seem to have forgotten that
When we were kids in the backseat
On the family vacation, we’d ask
“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”.
But somewhere along the way,
We “grew up” and replaced
The honest-if-impatient question with
The complacent self-talk that says
“We’re just now arriving!”—

And need I say for the record
That we are without the means
To have any clue whatsoever as to
How much more is yet to be discovered?
Yet even though we know this,
And certainly should know it,
So many fail to re-calibrate their minds
To the original honest-if-impatient settings.

And what shall we make of this behavior?

It seems to me that while there may be
Some love of learning at play,
Such is the weaker force for most—
The stronger one being the love of
Thinking ourselves more advanced
Than we really are.

But then, telescopes can only see
What they’re pointed at,
And you can’t make a man look
At what he does not want to see.

And if man is this hesitant to acknowledge
What he does not like about himself,
I wonder how honest the scientists will be
In acknowledging those things they do not like
About the cosmos.

And the more I learn, the greater a wonder it is
That we have ever managed to get anything right!

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