Rap’s poetry came to me twenty years ago at the hands of Gabriel o Pensador, or Gabriel the Thinker, a kind of contemporary philosopher who chose that language to express his social activism. In one of his songs, he spoke to an astronaut and thought through the reasons he wished to return to Earth. He said, «Remain where you are since it is the best thing you can do. Life around here is just too difficult» and ends with the idea that if one has the fortunate perspective of seeing the world from the moon, why would one want to return to Earth?
On a day like today in 1957, the satellite Sputnik 1 was launched into space. The United Nations celebrates this ephemeris with the World Space Week so as to remember «the contributions of science and technology in space exploration for the betterment of the human condition». But this week news also broke that Elon Musk, the magnate behind Tesla and Space X, already has a prototype with which human beings will travel to Mars… And then I pondered about the utopian idea of a future in space, and about the fact that, if Musk thinks that he is doing this to ensure the survival of the human species, the reality is that experience shows that we alone destroy ourselves. And that without exercising self-criticism and self-control, we will destroy Mars just as we destroy everything else.
Science and technology improve the human condition from the outside, but how do we improve the human condition from the inside?
The Arts open a door towards reflection and philosophy. And the artists who take up that responsibility help to change the world as much as or more than science and technology: they help up imagine. As Caetano Veloso said, «If you have an incredible idea, it is best to write a song. It’s proven that it is only possible to philosophize in German»…