We march because we love science and worry that it is threatened. We march to protect science from its enemies — from those getting rich by ruining the climate, while assuring us that our planetary home is not getting warmer; we march to protect science from those who get their knowledge of nature from the Bible, who want to remove Darwin’s theory of evolution from our public schools, and teach our children that the earth is 10,000 years old; we march to protect science from those who reject our emerging understanding of sexual orientations and genders, who would have us believe that psychology is but a collection of liberal sentiments.
We march to protest misguided parents who deny life-saving vaccinations and medical care to their children, who embrace pseudo-science and faith healing over the consensus of the medical community. We march to protest those that undermine the reproductive sciences, putting women’s lives and livelihoods in danger, in the service of ideology.
We march to protest those who shut down scientific research to free up tax dollars to build bigger bombs and give tax cuts to the wealthy; we march to protest those who would deny access to life-giving technologies to preserve the profits of big business.
We march to protest those who reject the hard-won scientific insights that women are not inferior to men or that those with brown skin are inferior to those with white.
But we also march to celebrate science. We celebrate a world where infant mortality is no longer 50% — where a family with six healthy children need not have buried an equal number that died in their first year of life. We celebrate the advances that allow our planet to host more than seven billion humans instead of less than one billion, as it did a mere two centuries ago. We celebrate that we are no longer struck down routinely by infections, appendicitis, plagues, and childhood illnesses.
We celebrate the science that enriches our lives. We grow enough food to feed every person on the planet; those that go to bed hungry do so because of politics and tribal hatreds, not because there isn’t enough food. Fewer and fewer of us spend our lives eking out a living doing backbreaking labor. More and more of us have comfortable lives, with time for travel and entertainment. We have devices that connect us to loved ones, that let us see the happy face and hear the happy laughter of a niece on another continent.
Yet we march for science knowing its dark side — the power to destroy not only our enemies, but our entire planet. Our growing footprint drives other species to extinction at an alarming rate. The machines that keep us alive sometimes do so for far too long. The devices that entertain us rob us of the nurturing human interactions we need to flourish. The wisdom we need to manage our science has not kept pace with the progress it has delivered.
Perhaps as we march for science we should place one thought in front of us: without the scientific progress of past centuries, someone critically important to us would have died — a great great grandmother giving birth; a great grandfather from the complications of his own birth; a grandfather from a minor injury in a conflict; a parent from a routine illness like pneumonia. Had any of these once routine and common things occurred we would not be here, today, in this place.
We march for science because we are alive.
Originally published at medium.com