Words can be so powerful, truthful and consoling. They change the way we look at things, they change the way we see our existence. This unforgettable speech by scientist Carl Sagan is something I truly adore and every now and then I listen to it on youtube. It makes me feel both humble and magical.
This tiny dot is where it all happens for us. This small planet Earth is where we love, kill, celebrate, mourn and destroy.
“The delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe is challenged by this point of pale light,” Sagan said. We are arrogant by thinking human is the centre point of the universe and we’re wrong too. We could do better by being more humble to start with. Humbleness in our culture is discouraged and seen as weakness; it shouldn’t bring us far in life. Well, we see where arrogance has led us. If we would encourage our children to be humble and see it as a quality instead of a weakness, we have more self-confident, self-loving and self-respecting men and women in the world who make it a better place.
So here’s to humbleness and respect to our home!
Carl Sagan, speech at Cornell University (October 13, 1994):
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again 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 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. 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. 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.”
Photo credits: Seth Macey on Unsplash