The survival of humanity through cosmic timescales will not be secured unless we venture into the cosmos; but the extinction of humanity is assured if we resign ourselves to chasing the perfection of the species down the dialectical spiral of reform and nostalgia.
We are trapped on this planet, among earthly problems without earthly solutions. Real change takes room to experiment. Think of the changes in the world over the past few centuries from the mutual discovery of new continents. I live in a country which was conceived and undertaken as an experiment, and has become the proof and example of democracy without mob rule or faction and of freedom without chaos.
I am stuck here in the earthly mud with all the rest of us. I cannot imagine what experiments are yet to be done. But I trust that what hope there is to better the human condition leads through them.
No more than we can sit and reason out nature without experiment can we sit and reason out human nature and human possibilities. It must come to experiment. To colonize our sister planets or the stars is not to repeat the world we know on a larger scale: it is to discover new worlds, not in the sky or in the stars, but in ourselves.
To see what we take for granted, to see unimagined alternatives, will take perspective broader than the narrow experience of Earth. What we need first and always is surprise—and as there is nothing new under the sun, we must have new suns.