Today, at this very moment, somewhere in Pennsylvania and elsewhere on the surface of Mars, things are occurring that have nothing to do with the age we live in. Not the same century, not the same year, nor the same day. It's as though strange people who arrived in vehicles from different times in history, who didn't embark on the road to development together and who don't look toward the same horizon, now inhabit the United States.
In Pennsylvania yesterday, a group of Christian fundamentalists known as "the Amish People" buried their dead. Five young girls were killed after a lunatic stormed into their schoolhouse, which consisted of one room and included students of both sexes and various ages. He released all the boys, teachers and teacher's aides and kept only the young girls, but before carrying out his plans [apparently to sexually abuse the children], he killed them and then killed himself .
But the story here is not about an obsessed criminal or the young girls. Rather, it is that this community, which consists of a few thousand people who live in a handful of areas of America and Canada, conduct themselves as though they were all part of a large family. To educate and school their children, they depend on their own organizations - not those of the state - and they completely reject modern technology and newfangled inventions. In fact, there is no place in their society for electrical devices or phones - fixed or mobile - and there are certainly no computers, or even cars!
Yesterday, the funeral procession included dozens of horse-drawn carriages silently conveying the victims’ families to the place where the young girls would be buried, and those who abide by their religious practices prayed for divine forgiveness and pardon of the murderer and his victims.
Meanwhile elsewhere in America - in Pasadena, in the State of California - astrophysicists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory sat in front of sophisticated computer equipment, with many small screens and one huge main screen, with which they are in contact with spacecraft and to which they send a constant stream of complex digital instructions. For days, weeks and months on end they stare at the small monitors and one huge one, directing a tiny spacecraft on the surface of Mars [the Mars Rovers: ] in order to study the soil and topography of the red planet. It sits in the same spot for an entire week at the edge of a large crater poised to go deeper into it, awaiting a "travel plan" to be received from a distance of more than 170 million kilometers [105.5 million miles]!
This is a great paradox for people living at the same time in the same land. America is a land full of juxtapositions between east and west, north and south, Muslim and Christian, Jew and Hindu, running the gamut of racial, ethnic, and religious groups. And all of it will one day be obliterated just as life on Mars was at some point obliterated.
There is a saying ascribed to the famous physicist Albert Einstein which might offer us a "road map" to the human condition: "Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." And this is why, perhaps, we find the Amish people happy with their lives and astrophysicists happy with theirs ...