FEBRUARY 1, 2003

This morning the space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it
was re-entering and preparing to land. Somehow the death of those seven people
touches us all with a deep sadness. As human beings, their death is no
more nor less tragic than thousands of others.

It is what they represent and what they do that makes the astronauts
special. They are heroes in the true sense, because their courage,
dedication and skill are aimed at the expansion of the horizons and
advancement of knowledge and understanding of the universe for all of humankind.

There have been countless heroes in battles, and many who have risked
their lives to save others, and they, too deserve honor.

But the men and women who boldly venture into the frontier of Space
represent the hopes and dreams of all who think beyond themselves, and
who believe that the future can be immeasurably better than the past for
all of humanity.

It is not just about travel to the distant stars, nor even the
encounters with other intelligent beings, though these are worthy goals.
Every increase in our understanding of the universe we live in may lead
to yet another disease cured, a population better fed and housed, or new
abilities to accomplish difficult tasks.

And as we gradually escape from the constraints of our isolated single
planet, we must surely learn to expand our concept of who we are and what
we are a part of.

It is the limits we place around ourselves that divide us from others.
We define our territories, erect fences, and end up attacking and
defending the fences. Nations are bigger, but no better than tribes,
clans, or street gangs.

I am an American citizen, and I know that I am fortunate to be one, but
I prefer to think beyond my borders to be a citizen of Earth. Nor do I
limit myself to that.

I am a citizen of the Cosmos.
My political party is open to all; any intelligent life form can join as long as he or she accepts all the others.

I am a Cosmicrat.