At the heart of this narrative, then, are three themes: the influence of the arctic landscape on the human imagination. How a desire to put a landscape to use shapes our evaluation of it. And, confronted by an unknown landscape, what happens to our sense of wealth. What does it mean to grow rich? Is it to have red-blooded adventures and to make a fortune, which is what brought the whalers and other entrepreneurs north? Or is it, rather, to have a good family life and to be imbued with a far reaching and intimate knowledge of one’s homeland, which is what the Tununirmuit told the whalers at Pond’s Bay wealth was? Is it to retain a capacity for awe and astonishment in our lives, to continue to hunger after what is genuine and worthy? Is it to live at moral peace with the universe?
It is impossible to know, clearly, the answer to this question; but by coming to know a place where the common elements of life are understood differently one has advantage of an altered perspective. With that shift, it is possible to imagine afresh the way to a lasting security of the soul and heart, and toward an accommodation in the flow of time we call history, ours and the world’s.
That dream . . . is the dream of great and common people alike.
Truth is relative to the human experience. Not that we are not capable of telling or knowing absolute truth, but that we have incomplete contexts to describe or understand the perspective of truth. What is truly red and beautiful to one is perhaps not true red nor beautiful, but merely something odd—something indescribable. In the mist of this shifting of contexts, we try our best to do just things and to uphold a civil discourse. We try our best to co-mingle with different views and different ways of life.
Since our perspective is limited, our contexts shift and we come to know truth by an unyielding desire to search for more, to understand better, and to get to know a place where the common elements of life are understood differently; one has the advantage of an altered perspective. In our one and only precious life, we quest for awe and astonishment and we hunger after what is genuine and worthy.
We like to live at moral peace with the universe.
Yet we cannot live at peace with the universe if we do not know it from its complete whole, if we do not shift our perspective of seeing the universe from its own point of view. In our haste to create or chase awe, we created and chased empty dreams.
We refuse to embrace our landscape. We refuse to embrace a new perspective of a sustainable future where we can grow and laugh at each other’s imperfections while knowing that what we don't know is what makes us human and our human experience sustainable. Yet we chose to embrace the ultimate and absolute truth, all for the sake of not being wrong in some strange way so as to please our own egos.
We lose sight of our dreams, we lose our arctic to our aimless goals.
We embrace this flow of time we call history, ours and the world’s.
Sir Martin Rees has issued a clarion call for humanity. His 2004 book, ominously titled Our Final Hour, catalogues the threats facing the human race in a 21st century dominated by unprecedented and accelerating scientific change. He calls on scientists and nonscientists alike to take steps that will ensure our survival as a species. One of the world's leading astronomers, Rees is a professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge, and UK Astronomer Royal. Author of more than 500 research papers on cosmological topics ranging from black holes to quantum physics to the Big Bang, Rees has received countless awards for his scientific contributions. But equally significant has been his devotion to explaining the complexities of science for a general audience, in books like Before the Beginning and Our Cosmic Habitat.