T.S. Eliot wrote in ‘The Cultivation of Christmas Trees’ that Christmas is a time for children to accumulate a sense of wonder. The emotion of awe – which I mentioned briefly in my last post – is garnering more interest among scientists as well, and fascinating research has shown that feeling a sense of awe can inspire pro-social behaviour.
I remember when the Bali Bombings happened in 2002, I wondered at the actions and attitudes of the terrorists. Surely, if they understood the overwhelming magnitude of our universe – that we are nothing but a tiny blue globe hanging in the immense vastness of space, a noisy minute in the vastness of time – their hubris would dissipate.
So in the New Year, I wish you not just happiness but awe: the antidote to despair, that other possible response to the incomprehensible enormousness of existence.
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. – Carl Sagan