The Humannaires Initiative
Reframe the pandemic, “Quarantine is space mission training!”
2020 is a year like no other in human history. No, rather it is like all the years in human history. Every challenge we have ever faced as a species has united and the threat we now face is existential. That said, I have no doubt we shall emerge victorious and evolving. Doubt is what I use when reading a novel or watching a film. Doubt is the willing suspension of disbelief, the suspension of disbelief that allows for the overview that everything possibly doesn’t always work out.
Let me be clear: To me, I approach life and reality with the worldview that “everything always works out”. Especially when it seems otherwise. For me, to imagine life doesn’t work out is a real kids game. It can be fun for a while — yet as a genuine perspective or worldview, it is not at all inspiring. Hopelessness is the opposite of inspiring. Especially to young students.
My own time-tested and life-validates outlook is that everything always works out. And this is a large enough overview to include even the perception or appearance to the contrary. Even when it appears that everything doesn’t work out, somehow, it does. It just does. It just takes a leap of faith. And this is an outlook we as grownups get to share with students today now more than ever.
Which is why I have chosen this year and this time to announce and begin what I call the Humannaires Initiative.
Humannaires! Sounds like legionnaires or millionaires. Inspiring students to see themselves in the future can only bear so-so results when the future seems uncertain and gloomy.
Inversely, when we point out a future for students to see themselves in which is bountiful, just, welcoming, equitable, and filled with possibility and rewarding challenge, students run to the work of fostering and creating it with enthusiasm, joy, and even glee.
We can solve all the challenges we face on Earth by solving for space. As my friend and peer Dr Sian Proctor neatly summarizes this position, “Solve for space, solve for Earth.”
By solving for space, in fact, we get to solve the greatest challenge ever faced by any living creature on the majestic orb we call the Earth: we get to solve for the illusion of scarcity.
There is enough for all, humans, other animals, plants, fish, and insects and microorganisms here on Earth. Figuring that out — how it works, what it looks like — means we get to go up to space and look back on Earth and take in what makes us special, and then opening ourselves up to all the ingenious ways we get to succeed and thrive together in honor of that specialness. Philosopher Frank White calls this important, rarified and essential perspective the Overview Effect.
Going up to space and turning and looking back and taking in all the heavens and all the cosmos and this relatively small and precious spaceship we call Earth — as the home to all of us and all our stories and all our histories and all our families and all our lives — without the arbitrary borders, without the imbalance of have and have-not, without a need for defending the mistaken belief that there just isn’t enough for everyone — and the figuring out of how to get everyone up above to see the Earth and experience this perspective personally while in doing so coming up with solutions for every challenge imaginable — this is the importance of the Overview Effect. And this is the crux of the Humannaires Initiative.
Our goal is to get everyone to space. Not to escape or flee or lord over or be cast away but rather to take in the grandeur of who we are and where we are and bring it back down to the Earth and our interactions with one another and all living things. We are not merely interconnected; we are all one.
If there is another species of human beings out there in the universe, let them find us at our best and most hospitable. Let them discover us as people worthy of being neighbors. Let them find us, as my friend author Loretta Whitesides imagines us, as both humankind and spacekind.
WITH ALL THIS IN MIND, let us begin the Humannaires Initiative by acknowledging the quarantine achievements of all the students in the world as their very first year of spacekind training, training to be the first humans worthy of bringing humankind to space, as the next generation of space explorers from Planet Earth, as Humannaires.
Quarantine is no longer simply surviving for an unknown and possibly undesirable future. From here on out, let 2020 be Year 1 of the Humannaires Initiative.
Every student around the world is now officially a Humannaire-in-training, a future resident of space whose purpose is to make life on Earth as sustainable, desirable, equitable, and wonderful and humanly possible — for all its residents and our co-inhabitants. Humankind and spacekind, simultaneously and forevermore from here on out.
As grownups, we are responsible for dealing with the present and putting the tools for success into the hands, hearts, and minds of our successors. Technology and innovation can only do so much. In order to foster the future we want for us all and our world, and the future students want permission to imagine for themselves, we are responsible for imparting the most important tool of all and that tool is hope married with vision. It is with that understanding, we get to declare the future a space future and humankind a spacekind. This is the Humannaires Initiative.
In the words of Astronaut-Teacher Christa McAuliffe, space is for everybody! And in order to foster and engender the future we want, one worth having, let it now also be known:
Space is for kids!
Mike Mongo is the host of Mike Mongo’s Astronaut Adventures, author of The Astronaut Instruction Manual, and Official Ambassador of Johnny Appleseed in Space.
He is a dedicated proponent of astronautics-as-a-career for students in the US and abroad.
As a speaker and educators, Mike Mongo supports students pursuing careers in astronautics and Space-related fields.
Learn more about his work at mikemongo.com.