Thousands of years ago, most people on this planet considered the Earth to be the center of the universe. The sun, moon and stars revolved around our stationary position in space. We were the all important existence. As religions developed, they readily adopted this theory, because it afforded their god(s) more implied power.
You may believe, as I did, that this theory existed without questioning until about 500 years ago. Not so. As far back as the 9th century BCE, there was a Hindu text written by an Indian philosopher named Yajnavalkya which stated, “The sun strings these worlds – the earth, the planets, the atmosphere – to himself on a thread.” Not only did this thinker understand the solar system, he also seems to have had a rudimentary understanding of gravitational pull. Unfortunately, he did not attract a lot of followers.
In 200 BCE there was a Greek astronomer named Aristarchus who maintained that the Earth rotated on its axis and orbited around the Sun. His theory was met with fierce resistance. People just don’t want to be told that what they believe is not true. Even the great thinkers and teachers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy remained staunch in their belief that the Earth was the center of the universe.
Fast forward to 1543 AD when Copernicus finally published his findings that the Earth was just another planet circling the Sun. Out of fear of the Church, he waited until he was on his death bed to publish his works. Galileo was not quite so smart, when he published “The Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” He was promptly arrested, convicted of heresy, and spent the rest of his life in prison. Then along came Sir Isaac Newton and Edmund Haley, whose works solidified the scientific facts.
Now we know that, not only is the Earth not the center of our solar system, we also know our solar system is not the center of our galaxy, and our galaxy is not the center of the universe. We are way off center.
So why is it, with all this knowledge and fact, some people still think they are the center of the universe. You know the people of whom I speak.
- The person who parks their grocery cart in the middle of the isle, completely oblivious to other shoppers.
- The family that brings their small children to a nice restaurant and lets them play as if they are at McDonalds, simply because they want a nice meal.
- The lady or man who wears way too much perfume or after-shave into a closed space.
- The person who zips in front of you in traffic or cuts in front of you in line, believing they and their time are more important than you and yours.
- The person who enters a public place talking loudly on his/her phone, as if all of us want to hear their whole conversation.
- The person who arrives at the cashier totally unprepared to finalize the transaction, while 14 people wait behind them in line.
- The person for whom you opened a door, who goes through the door wihtout saying “Thank You,” because they just “deserved” such treatment.
Feel free to add your own favorites in your comment.
I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by John Donne – “No Man Is An Island.” If you don’t know it look it up. It is worth reading.