With True Freedom Comes True Responsibility.
During the Coronavirus epidemic, in various parts of the world, we witnessed a strange and perverse warping of the meanings of freedom and responsibility. As scientists and health officials literally begged people to wear their masks to protect one another, a small but vocal subset of people refused to do so in the name of their individual rights.
This meant that more people got sick and some of them died. Thus, in the name of their own alleged “rights” and personal “liberty” these few people felt it reasonable that they also had the right to take actions that might kill other human beings.
Aside from the obvious insanity of this position it demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the true nature of personal responsibility within the context of being a free person in a human society.
As we begin the breakout into space, it is imperative that we adopt and hold sacred a new and more sane interpretation of the meaning of freedom, liberty and our individual rights, lest we kill ourselves, kill those we live with and kill everything and everyone else we encounter on the Frontier.
For example, imagine living within a sealed space community on the Moon or Mars that is similarly infected with a deadly virus that is transmitted by your breathing.
Were you to follow the insane and selfish logic of so-called freedom loving anti-state anti-maskers, you would refuse to obey the mandate of your community’s government and everyone in your habitat would die on the alter of your self-righteousness.
Writ on a larger canvas, this same extreme self uber alis approach to living could lead to decisions and activities that could kill or harm millions of people, destroy important historical artifacts, or even lead to the extinction of other forms of life in the cosmos. Be it the spreading of waste and debris around the Earth, the destruction of an alien habitat, or the irresponsible manipulation of the orbit of an asteroid, we must couple the almost unlimited freedom we may fund and can create beyond the Earth with a deep cultural foundation of personal responsibility.
In a way it is all about love. We must show not just love of ourselves, but of everyone and everything around us. This is the path to the true freedom we all desire.
The Declaration of Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Universe is our offering for a guiding document that can inform international and national policy development related to human actions and interactions beyond the Earth. The Declaration adopts the precedents of such documents as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Outer Space Treaty and other applicable historic credos and traditions developed before it was credible that non-government and non-corporate citizens of Earth might be able to go to, develop and live in the space beyond the MotherWorld. It articulates what is about to become the new reality beyond the boundaries of Earth – an open frontier in space that is owned by no one belongs to everyone and is open to all. Yet it also lays out cultural guidelines to help assures those who go out there can operate under a shared set of principles.
Overcoming Our Past – So we might build a better future
As humanity begins to break out into space, the biggest obstacles we must overcome are not gravity or physics. It is ourselves. The outcome of the first space race illustrated the truth of this. Using only the technology of the time, we were able to fly to the Moon. Then, having tentatively touched our toes to its dusty surface, we withdrew and began circling our own world for the next fifty years, culturally unable to comprehend that we had stood for a moment on the edge of the universe.
Today, as we move beyond the first global catastrophe of the 21st century, we have at one and the same time seen both the best and worst of ourselves. Even as governments failed, science proved right, and the people became the frontline heroes of the day. Yet, for all the darkness and fear of our shaken world, I choose to believe in the goodness of the people that call her home. In fact, the corona virus’s attack demonstrated the weakness of top-down control, and a strong argument can be made that it was the people themselves, through their own discipline, caring and mutual support, that did much of the work to save the day. Be it in corporate laboratories, hospitals, local governments, communities and neighborhoods, the people were the ones who fought this war, and in the end, through their enlightened choices, it was the people who won it – as staggering as was its cost.
Thus, when we confront the legislative and political barriers to the independent participation and leadership of people rather than states in opening the space frontier, we are saddened, appalled, and called to action.
Yes, governments made the initial investments in space as part of their Cold War space race. Today, the children of those times have stepped up and into their footprints to take the giant leaps that will transform the future. While some visionary leaders and policymakers work to enable private citizens and companies to succeed, others try to slow them down. Meanwhile, all are stuck toiling to re-invent and re-interpret legal and policy frameworks designed for another era, almost literally trying to drive the future between commas in these now nearly ancient treaties and policy documents.
The future of our species is on the line out there. Be it the military already playing its cat and mouse games in the silence above, to those who see mining the resources of the Solar System as the next gold rush, to those who would use space to save our Mother Earth, to those who simply want to get away and start over, so much is at stake, so much is possible, that we must make sure that this time we get it right.
Yet some would deny the people of Earth their sacred right to go out into the universe, chart their personal destinies and make of those now dead places new homes for their families. The need to control others, to exert power is as old as humanity, combined with bad analogies between our past and our possible future
Notwithstanding such obstacles, a generation of entrepreneurs and others who believe the expansion of humanity and life beyond the Earth is THE goal of our space activities has begun a push to realize their dreams. Were it any other time or any other group of people this discussion would perhaps be a novelty or anomaly. They would be considered a lunatic fringe and dismissed as simple dreamers. But they are not. The space revolution is being led by a pragmatic and doggedly determined group of activists, entrepreneurs, policy leaders – along with some of the richest people on the planet, some of the same people who are in large part responsible for the internet, communications, financial and transportation revolutions that define our age.
Underwritten by billions of dollars, working within a new framework of government polices, aided by new technologies and a rising generation of globally interconnected entrepreneurs, we are on the verge of achieving the ability to fly hundreds if not thousands of people into space. This includes many who want to go there to build new communities and expand human civilization beyond this one fragile world.
We believe that so long as they do so upon a shared set of basic principles, it is their absolute and inalienable right to do so.
The Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Humanity in the Universe
(The Space Declaration)
It is the Inalienable Right of All Human (and sentient) Beings to go any place in the universe;
- To do anything they choose to do,
- To use any resources they may find,
- To own the land or space on or within which they live, and…
- To establish homes, enterprises and communities that are free to be governed by the inhabitants and citizens therein in any manner they see fit, within the parameters set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
So long as in so doing they do not:
- Harm nor threaten the Earth, its life and people,
- Harm nor interfere with any other human (or sentient) being, their property, sacred or venerated places, or
- Harm the ecosystems, or vital supporting environments, of any other living creatures.
By our consent and agreement to these terms, we, the people of Earth, do declare and ratify our intention that the space beyond the Motherworld be considered free by all, for all, and to all.
Final Draft July 4, 2020
Explanations and Definitions
Here we breakdown the various clauses of the declaration and explain the thoughts behind them:
“To do anything they choose to do,”
One of the hallmarks of free societies is the right of people to be themselves. Yet even as in just the last few hundred years we have begun to experiment with what is historically a new concept at the level of states – letting people do what they want – many feel we must still impose any number of restraints on each other – especially if we feel that what any individual or group is doing threatens some existing order. For example, while we may theoretically agree that anyone should be able to buy or sell or trade anything they want with each other, the existing global systems of currency, trade and exchange do not allow for new systems to be put in place that might be at odds with the existing institutional order.
At the level of individuals, given that we have fluid and semi-open global transportation and movement, and cultural sensitivities that are easily bruised or offended, since we are stuck within one global system, certain approaches to living are often challenged or even sanctioned. For example, imagine new born community that chose not to use current financial systems, wear clothing, adhere to sexual or social norms within any current frameworks. It would be and often is shunned and or limited or even outlawed because of or in the name of some perceived or manufactured threat to the order of those nearby. Even if they were go offshore – as some have done – even into so called “international” waters, soon enough it is inevitable that at some point the military of some nearby nation will declare they have been harmed in some way and shut the experiment down. In the limitless expanse of space, given the potential for complete self-reliance, rather than try to lock down experimentation in what it means to be human, we have the chance to let a million flowers bloom.
“To use any resources they may find,”
The history of the human species has been defined by the availability and ability to use resources. As we have become an ever more industrial society our demands for resources have increased dramatically.
To date human history has been characterized by a never-ending assault on the ecosystem in our hunger for ever more supplies with which to build our civilization. We have clearly damaged this world in our quest for more, and given we exist within an essentially closed system and biosphere it makes sense that we regulate and control what, where and how we extract what we need – especially in relation to the damage we do to the living systems and creatures with which we share the planet.
Yet this obvious and important concept does not translate to the not only dead but dangerous to life realm of space. While we have and should rightly be as careful in the use of the resources of this fragile and limited planet, this concept is completely inverted when we expand beyond the bubble of Earth. While logically this should make sense, there are those who would try to force ironically mis-learned lessons of history to restrict the use of the resources of space. In fact, we should strongly encourage the use of space resources to the greatest degree possible to alleviate further pressures on the Motherworld and to support the development of human activities, industries and new homes for both people and our fellow living things.
“To own the land or space on or within which they live…”
The right to own and utilize property is one of the oldest rights of human civilization. For a family, group or individual to establish itself in a place, often a place that is hostile to human habitation, and then turn that place into a home that then belongs to that family, group or individual is fundamental. The reward for what is often generations of sweat and toil is that a family, group or individual then owns what it has created and developed. While one might argue the misuse and abuse of this right or its effect on the Earth’s environment, such arguments fall apart in space.
Given the unlimited nature of what is out there and its inherent inhospitality to life, allowing human beings, groups or families to turn this actively anti-life domain into places where humans and life can thrive and rewarding them with the rights inherent in ownership of those places is not only a fair reward, but one that is required if we are to expand the domain of life beyond the Motherworld. This does not mean that Earth corporations or nations should be entitled to extend claims across vast swaths of land or space. The wording here is carefully chosen to include only those places where people live, for who would deny the right of anyone to own their own home? Whatever form of ownership, inheritance, trade, sale or barter then chosen by the owners of those places is another discussion, as is the scale and size of what is fair in terms of the expanse of one’s recognized holdings, but the core principle is foundational.
“To establish homes, enterprises and communities that are free to be governed by the inhabitants and citizens therein in any manner they see fit.”
This document is being drafted by a citizen of a free enterprise democracy. While in the mind of its author variations of that system or even more representative versions of that system may be the ideal way to govern future human communities in space, there are other systems and approaches that are valid and workable as well. This may range from corporate to communal, anarchic, to hereditary monarchy, or new forms as yet unimagined. All forms of local control and government should be allowed to thrive at the discretion of the governed so long as they all conform and function…within the parametres set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“…within the parameters set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one of the most important documents ever written. Derived from some of the most enlightened documents in human history, it lays out a set of basic parameters for how human beings should treat one another. Often ignored as much as it is embraced here on the Earth, in space we will at last be able to implement it at a fundamental level. The Declaration of the Rights of Humanity in the Universe does not intend to nor should it reach down into the level of human interactions covered by the UDHR, and simply recognizes and includes its basic principles within its own framework, as this task has already been well accomplished.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm nor threaten the Earth, its life and people,”
Earth is the MotherWorld. Human civilization is one family. Both are sacred, and while to date the rise of our industrial and militarized civilization has ignored this fact, as we open the high frontier of space we have the chance to introduce this concept as a founding principle of what we do out there.
At a basic level, actions that are undertaken by anyone in space must not have negative effects on anyone or anything on the ground. For example the dumping of garbage or discarded hardware that can impact the surface or pollute the orbits of the planet, or the emplacement of systems of an offensive or potentially offensive military nature in Earth’s orbit must be prohibited.
Moving further out in distance and time, as humans begin to interact with objects in space such as asteroids and comets, adherence to the Declaration’s principles will demand a level of responsibility and liability commensurate with the potential threat to the Earth or any of Earth’s citizens or facilities by that interaction. The old phrase “you touched it, you own it” will cut both ways, be it the establishment of property rights, and the attachment of permanent liability, as there is no way to interact with an object in Free Space without changing where it will eventually go. This will require an understanding of the perhaps subtle shifts in the trajectories of such objects in their orbits so that they cannot ever strike our home, and the development of insurance and liability codes that cover any such eventualities and the amelioration or avoidance of any calamitous results of such interactions.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm nor interfere with any other human (or sentient) being,”
The right of non-interference is a long understood tenet of human laws and customs. The sanctity of any human being’s right to be, to live as they choose, to go where they will is a core and fundamental right within the framework of democratic governments on Earth. At the level of organized institutions, this is also upheld as a norm in the realm of corporate or state based interactions – even when at the level of the citizens of those entities it may be ignored or abused.
In other words, while within a totalitarian state the ability of people to travel may be restricted, at the level of international relations, the rights of that state in the form of its officials and vessels to travel and do what they want without interference is generally respected. Thus again states and businesses have acquired and hold rights the people do not. Adoption of the Declaration and its enforcement in space gives us the chance to shift this relationship at last.
While perhaps controversial to such nations, the declaration proposes that this right be established as an absolute at the level of human beings, no matter their origin or loyalty on Earth. It also means that states cannot assert arbitrary control of or over any human being in space without their consent and any human being or entity in space cannot interfere with the activities of anyone else, be it an individual, entity or state.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm nor interfere with their property,”
Human beings and their machines or systems are prohibited any physical interference such as actual encroachment or entry into areas considered by popular consensual agreement to be owned by any person or entity, nor their necessary means of transit to and from their property or location, nor any interference with their communications or transport by any means of energy or information between or within areas of their control and ownership.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm nor interfere with their sacred or venerated places,”
On Earth there is a reasonably new set of globally accepted formal legal and policy structures designed to protect areas of historical and religious importance. Ranging from the declaration of certain properties and areas to be monuments and parks, to recognition of locations and structures as areas of Heritage Sites, to the even longer (and yet all too often violated) concept of certain places and locations as holy or of spiritual and cultural significance to a particular group, religion or society.
In space there are many locations that are obvious in their historical significance, be it the landings sites of the first robotic or human missions to the Moon (and Mars) to artifacts in Free Space such as the International Space Station.
This does not mean that every new place of human interaction with the universe beyond the Earth should be declared sacred, as the very act of humanity moving beyond the Earth into places where it has never been means All places we go will in fact be firsts at some level. Thus, while some sites such as those previously mentioned and those of an obvious nature yet to come should be immediately declared off limits to unregulated tampering, pillaging or other interference with their pristine state, many will have to be decided and arbitrated.
Along the same lines, the concept of what is considered a sacred place will also be the subject of some debate, with some overlap in terms of general historical value. In time there may arise in space faiths and religions that ascribe holiness to the same artifacts now seen as historic, or “naturally” occurring features and structures.
At the most macro level, an example of this sort of consideration might be the Moon itself, or at least that part of it that faces the Earth. Many terrestrial religions and cultures consider the features and patterns of the Moon as it is now to be iconic in their faiths, and human manipulation or destruction of luna’s image would be considered sacrilege. Interestingly, by this same token, one might well argue that the far side of the Moon is open for business, including mining and other activities we might consider “unsightly”.
This idea of protecting the Earth facing near side of the Moon offers an example of why we must adopt this Declaration or something like it early. Let’s say that as we move to an electric economy it is decided the need for so-called Rare Earth Metals is so dire that we must look to the Moon. Without some agreement that the near side is off limits, NASA, ESA, China and the others will begin investing time and money and develop institutional momentum based on finding deposits on the near side that once in motion will be hard to stop. This sort of business and institutional bulldozer effect is witnessed every day on Earth and is the result of cultural agreement chasing the force of money. Yet on the Moon, with an entire half a world made freely available on the far side, if top level agreement can be had, we can avoid a century’s long running battle between the interests of states and companies and those who want to be able to look up at a Moon that is the same as that seen by their ancestors.
For now, outside of this major possible example, which is largely also covered under the non-Declaration concept of “good taste” such sites do not yet exist – but they will – and it important to prepare for and create the right level of respect for their creation now, rather than later.
If this seems far fetched, or a worry without a cause, I simply refer you to the skies above right now, as thousands of Star Link and other satellites streak across the night sky.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm the ecosystems…of any other living creatures.”
For the purposes of the declaration an ecosystem is defined as a place or realm within which a dynamic living system occurs with definable boundaries that is distinct from the environment beyond those boundaries and where those living systems and types of life within are bound to each other and the environment they create within that ecosystem in such a way that they cannot thrive beyond its boundaries.
A terrestrial example might be a particular type of coral reef ecosystem. While it exists within and is part of a broader ocean, its organizational structure and many of its prime distinguishable elements and participants require the micro biome they create with, by and for each other, and the particular physical space and dynamic within which they live to survive and thrive. Many of partnered creatures in an ecosystem have particular adaptations unique to the place they dwell. In some cases, and at some levels of specialization some of the inhabitants cannot even survive outside of that environment, while other, more generalized inhabitants may well survive but cannot thrive. In some cases, the difference between those living within the ecosystem and what lies beyond it is so extreme that death would be the penalty of venturing only a small distance outside its boundaries.
A possible example on Mars may occur in the speculated pools of liquid water that may exist deep under the ice on the Marian poles. Should such life be found there but nowhere else on the planet, it might be reasonable to define those pools as unique ecosystems. As such, within the framework of the declaration, they would be declared essentially off limits to human activities, and in fact as soon as could be determined, those main arenas of physical interaction on which they depend would also come under appropriate regulation. Yet, as isolated “pools” of life within a broader Martian habitat that would be deadly to those life forms should they venture beyond the protection of the ice caps, they could not be used to block the broader habitation and utilization of the rest of the planet, as they would be unique and identifiable “ecosystems” under the terms of the declaration.
“So long as in so doing they do not:
Harm the…property, sacred or venerated spaces of any other living creatures.”
This clause of the Declaration is designed to put in place over time and from the outset an elemental and basic respect for those forms of life and sentient beings we may at some point encounter. Like all of the references in the Declaration to “sentient” beings, the idea here is to inculcate the concept of respect and non-or minimal interference by human beings and our technologies with anyone or anything else we may meet on our expansion into the universe.
Referred to in fiction as the “Prime Directive”, this concept may seem too speculative to be included in a document meant to inform our actions before any hint, evidence or contact with other sentient species has occurred. However, in answer to this, it might be interesting to ask: What if prior to the “discovery” of New Worlds on Earth and the ensuing ravages and conquests that followed there had been a universally accepted top level cultural agreement that any new human tribes or cultures we encountered would be respected and deemed as equal in their rights as anyone else?
We are at the beginning of the greatest age of humanity and possibly life itself. So let’s learn from whence we came.
For the first time in history we have at once the ability to look back into our own history and the archeological records of the past and understand them in context with all the other records of the planet’s history. This gives us the ability to apply them to ourselves and project from them lessons to be applied to how we move into the future, the ability to share information and test that information against the realities around us in ways that can be applied to what we do next.
This vast knowledge also gives us the chance to carefully design and sketch out the infinity of tomorrows we intend to paint on the blank and empty canvas of our future in space.
Creating and agreeing to a basic set of core principles is a minimum exercise by which we can perhaps at least influence how and what happens as the human race takes the next steps and giant leaps outwards, so that those to whom we give that future can have the best chance to live into a tomorrow that offers promise to all, and is beautiful, hopeful and in the end magnificent.
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Read/Download a poster version of the Space Declaration to hang on your wall or give to friends.
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Our goal is for this Declaration to be adopted by anyone and everyone engaged in either going to or opening space. We believe it can help create an underlying motivation and morality for the expansion of humanity and life into the Universe.Laws and policies can only go so far.
Please sign and share if you agree.
“To carry the light of life to places now dark, the seeds of life to places now dead, and the eyes, hands and minds of humanity to places yet unseen, untouched and unknown.”