Seeing Nothing

We might be on the verge of seeing a black hole. That’s a big deal because black holes swallow light. The goal is a high-resolution image from short-wavelengths detected by eight telescopes in a network that runs from Europe to Antarctica through South America, North America, and the Hawaiian Islands. Combined, the telescopes make one big eye called the Event Horizon Telescope.* Actually, it will probably at the very best reveal some details about the Event Horizon, the margin between the accretion disk and the actual hole. As for the hole itself? Well, if you want to see the absence of light, just go on a cave tour where the guide turns out the lights and says, “This is what the cave looks like without artificial light.” Duh!

We have long lived with the metaphors of light and darkness as analogs of good and evil. In many instances, we have difficulty agreeing on the boundary between the two because of different perspectives. If we argue from strict dogma, we think we can delineate both clearly, but in everyday life, we frequently encounter an unresolved fuzziness. Someone’s good fades into another’s evil. That event horizon between what is good or bad can be difficult to resolve.  

You might not care about the effort to see the black hole, its event horizon, or accretion disk, but there’s a lesson in the effort for all of us currently lost in the darkness of enveloping evil. More eyes on a subject can reveal more details and see what might be missed by just two eyes and a single perspective. Remember that whenever you believe your perspective differs from that of someone else. If we could just get people from all over the world to look in unison, there’s a chance that either the unknown or the misunderstood will manifest itself. True, we might end up seeing the absence of something, but that, in itself, might be worth a look into the darkness of current knowledge. That event, that unity of perspectives focused on the darkness that envelopes us, is still over the distant horizon, but it might be the ultimate human event.

Until humans link their moral telescopes, the fuzziness of that moral horizon will keep us all in the dark.