Message From AAA’s President – June 2021

Happy June everyone!

This month’s message will be somewhat about myself— but it’s for a good reason, so please do not think me arrogant. I believe that this is a story we could all relate to, and it ultimately comes down to science (as do most things).

The story goes that even though I am of ripe middle age, my denial of this fact extends far enough that each week I play American flag football, as I have done for about a decade now. Unfortunately my speed has left me, and my injuries seem to continue to pile up, and then take longer and longer to heal. But as long as I can throw the ball (I prefer playing as quarterback), and catch (when receiving), I see no good reason to stop.

Yet, recently someone about half my age stormed off the field and accused me of not trying hard enough. Mind you, this is a game played in a park, for no money, front end deals, back end deals, or the opportunity to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. At least that I am aware of.

But of course I am also aware that emotions still sometimes run high, and there is always that competitive spirit to win.

Upon seeing this display of emotions, I thought to myself: do I respond by saying that I would like to see the shape he is in when he is my age? Or maybe start listing the ailments I have suffered from in the past (torn muscles, broken bones, concussions, needing to learn how to walk again after destroying a knee, etc.) or those I currently and always will suffer from (Crohn’s Disease, etc.)?

Instead, I chose to remain mostly silent and simply hoped that as this person matures and goes through life, he learns a healthy dose of empathy.

So, what does this have to do with astronomy, you may be asking yourself. And my reply is— everything.

Astronomy, in my opinion, is the study of all that unites humanity. Everything around us. Everything we know about our existence. And even more that we do not know. When there is so much anger and misunderstanding in this world, I believe that the ability to take a step back, look up, and see how all of us are just a speck of a grain in what seems to be an unlimited universe— that is where empathy truly comes from.

One of my heroes, Alan Alda, spends much of his time outside of acting teaching the importance to connect and empathize, and as I get older I see just how important those teachings really are.

As for myself, I will continue playing football— I like to think that I still ‘have it’— and hope that whether it is the science of sports, biology, sociology, or any other, ultimately it is the community of astronomy that searches for that which will unite us all… an understanding of the cosmos.

Thank you as always for being a part of AAA.