A professor’s thoughts on why the United Nations should move to space

A conversation with professor Newton Von Braun.

You have this wild idea that the International Space Station should be the new United Nations. Why?

The International Space Station is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Borders and citizenship don’t matter too much up there since you’re in space! What are you going to do pick out a star and say that’s mine? It’s a billion light years away. Good luck with putting your flag on that. Humanity has a lot of issues and space is where they go to die. On a space station, you see Earth. That in itself is a tremendous experience for anyone.

You’ve never been to space.

I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the importance of every politician and citizen of the world experiencing the overview effect. Astronauts talk about how it changes their perception of Earth.

Then encourage more astronauts to be politicians.

No, that’s not appropriate. Someone as intelligent as an astronaut shouldn’t have to be pestered with running for office. That’s why I’m saying politicians need to be sent up there to do their work. The world’s moving towards consolidation anyways. It’s an old, bad idea for politicians to be headquartered in a city and running an entire country. How can a citizen in Bumpkin, Ohio depend on a politician in Washington, DC to do something for them? It’s not possible anymore. And yes, some enterprising journalist will pick out examples of community building, but that’s not living in the present. Citizens are interacting with information from not only their country but the world. If that’s the case, then politicians need to reevaluate what a nation is and why a politician exists. People are getting tired of hearing politicians talk about matters that everyone knows that they know nothing about. It’s even more frustrating when politicians support laws building a bigger government to protect national security. If a politician is having to play catch up all the time then they are irrelevant. So then why does a politician exist in our new world? Perspective. Which most of them lack. So where do you send them to get one? Space.

People would argue that if a politician is in space, they would never be granted the opportunity to engage with a voter in Bumpkin, Ohio.

That’s a good critique. But have you seen the voters from Bumpkin. No politician is ever going to listen to what they say anyway. Politics has always been a sham. The only thing we can do is attempt to make it a bit better. And we could end up with all these politicians doing the same thing they did before and only one or two gain anything from the experience. But it’s worth it. Because then those individuals will go on to do great things.

The psychological effects of living in space would be demanding.

No different from leading a country in the Oval Office. But there’s a big difference. Look out your window at the White House, all you see is the Washington Monument and some protestor losing their shit over some humanitarian concern. If your office is in space, you see the entire world. You see storms. You see the world go to sleep and wake up. You understand that you’re serving something greater than yourself. This is going to sound Oprah-like, but it’s empowering.

Well you need an Oprah-polish to sell your idea.

Yes, you’re right. Selling this has been a challenge.

Why do you think it’s a tough sell?

Kids these days are too interested in liking a photo of space instead of imaging what they could be doing in space. I don’t blame them. The first image they see on their phones is a hot model in a bikini or their friend having fun in another part of town. Their first goal is to be like that other person they see on their phone. But those young kids should be asking themselves after they see those photos, “what should that person be doing instead?” It’s an essential question that is ignored because you’re caught up in collecting enough social cache to just be recognized as a person in your friend group. Humans aren’t meant to go off the beaten path of thought because they like to be around other people. Look at virtual reality. Good ‘ole Zuck wanted the entire world to have a Facebook account and a black box on their face. What happened? People ignored virtual reality. They want to be with other people. Facebook is able to construct the false sense so that’s why it hasn’t completely dropped off. But it will quietly die a long, slow death. Advertisers are going to hold on to it for dear life. But the world will move on without it. Facebook didn’t deliver on the promise of feeling connected. It only connected people. An alternative to a landline. Make me someone experience a true feeling of connection by seeing the world for what it actually is: a really, really, really complex sphere that you live on.