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Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot" and why we should be more

  • April 14, 2017 3:29 PM PDT

    “Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

    The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

    Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

    The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

    It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” 


    To me, this quote sums up my views on existence and our planet. It is not reductive to put us into perspective in the vastness of our cosmos. Or to boil down our existence into cells and atoms and colors into wavelengths of light that hit photoreceptors and allow us to see the people and creatures we cherish.
    We are the product of 3.8 billion years of evolution; and our ancestors arose between five and seven million years ago. It was through perseverance and fortuitous happenstance that we managed to make it as far as we have as a species.

    What are your thoughts on such an outlook on the world and our existence?

    • 32 posts
    April 14, 2017 7:34 PM PDT
    I love that we are such a speck. (Plus, I love astronomy.) This makes me feel less lonely though. I feel surrounded by infinite specks! ❤
    ~ namaste
    This post was edited by Auntie Moira at April 15, 2017 7:26 AM PDT
  • April 14, 2017 9:30 PM PDT

    [blockquote]Auntie Moira said: I love that we are such a speck. (Plus, I love astonomy.) This makes me feel less lonely though. I feel surrounded by infinite specks! ❤ ~ namaste[/blockquote]


    I quite agree. It is our joined experiences which make existence bearable.

    • 19 posts
    August 24, 2018 7:21 AM PDT

    “Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”
    -- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

    I agree with this! Hope it fits. 

    • 19 posts
    August 24, 2018 7:31 AM PDT

    “The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life's meaning. We long for a parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”
    -- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

    And, I agree with this.