The smog over Lahore is a tangible example of our disharmony with nature. The sky is cloudy and the air is thick with particles, making it impossible to see the grandest theatre of the universe ie the sky. It is a sad sight to see the sky of Lahore losing its visibility day by day, and the threat is looming. This local problem is like a symbol of the global problem of space debris, or, simply put, space junk – which is another growing threat.
We all think that space debris does not bother us but it is the opposite, in fact. Space debris affects us all. Think about this: just like the uncontrolled emissions in Lahore hurt our health and the environment, each piece of space debris – dead satellites, spent rocket stages, and pieces from satellites that have broken apart – makes Earth's orbit a dangerous obstacle course. These pieces of junk are a threat to active satellites, which provide important services that include the internet, banking and GPS tracking. The scary part is that these pieces of debris are moving at the speed of a bullet.
Taosim, which is based on the ideas of balance and unity, can help us deal with the problem of local and global sustainability problems. Putting the Dao in the context of space, which is still mostly mysterious and unknown to us, gives us a new way to think about our role and duty. Space is more than just a line in the sand if we think of it as a manifestation of the Dao. It becomes a sacred place that holds the spirit of everything. Ancient Taoists saw mountains, rivers, and forests as sanctuaries filled with spiritual energy. Similarly, we should see the stars, galaxies, and celestial bodies similarly. This point of view changes how we think about space from a resource to be used to a place that deserves respect and reverence. This change of assumption can paint a different future for generations to come.
Taoism says that the way we treat space should be Wu Wei, which means "non-action" – and here, it must mean being patient in a planned way. Like any local farmer of Pakistan who has to wait for the right time of year to plant, we have to be careful about when and how we interact with space, making sure that our actions don't add to the chaos above. Wu Wei teaches us to act naturally and in harmony with life's flow. It warns against pushing or rushing space travel and instead urges people to think about their actions before they act.
When it comes to space junk, Yin and Yang force us to find a balance between our desire to go beyond the limits of our world (Yang) and our duty to keep the universe pure (Yin) as we are looking for balance in space. It calls for the guardianship and stewardship bestowed in all of us.
Ziran, which means "naturalness," teaches us that space should not be messed with because it is beautiful when it is left alone. As Dr. Moriba Jah says “We must not litter the space like we have littered the oceans” and we certainly must not litter the space like we have littered Karachi, which is another sad sight to see. In order to do all this, we need to know what our actions mean and avoid doing things that could pollute or upset the order in space. Te (Virtue), is about following the Tao in our daily life. It stresses having morals and good character. For space sustainability, this means going into space travel with good intentions, making sure that our goals aren't just about making money or taking over other planets and have a moral intention behind it.
When we change how we interact with space, we need to pay attention to the realisation that the growing ring of debris around Earth is like the thick smog in Lahore—a result of actions we took without thinking about the future. Pakistanis know all too well what happens when you don't take care of the environment.
When we delve deeper into the Dao and what it means for space, it urges us to approach the final frontier not as conquerors but as humble threads in the grand tapestry of existence. It calls for respect, understanding, and long-term action in the sacred, vast expanse of the heavens.
May the ancient wisdom of Taoism guide our steps as we dance through space exploration, making sure that humanity has a harmonious journey.