Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Look Carefully

at the NASA photo above and you'll see a little white dot. This minute speck is Earth seen from the Voyager 1 spacecraft as it exits the solar system, nearly 4 billion miles away.

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 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.
– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

Currently I'm in: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Why: Waiting for daughter's flight from Toronto.
Listening to: Maddie Prior, Steeleye Span ("all around my hat")
Watched: A lecture by Naomi Wolf on The end of America
Weather is: Unbelievably mild
Planning: A midnight picnic of seafood and salad
Wrote: A strange story of a marriage which falls apart.

My wish for everyone out there: Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arĂ­s!

Which translates to: May we all be alive this time next year, which was said as a prayer during the nights of Advent when the candle in the window was lit by the youngest of the house when I was growing up in Ireland.

Thank you all, my faithful blog readers and writers!


  1. How very true. All the pretentious posturings by the world's leaders and armies would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact they also cause untold suffering and despair. As Buddhists say, we are but grains of sand on the banks of the Ganges. And God forbid our currupt species ever migrated to another planet and caused as much havoc there. Human beings are so massively destructive compared with animals, I'm sure if animals had the means they would have wiped us out long ago for the good of the planet.

  2. I also think Nick that this is why the inhabitants of other planets avoid us so beautifully. They know us for the murderous, abusive species that we are - or to be more precise know that we put those in power that wield weapons of mass destruction and make greed a sacrament.
    We need to rise up!

  3. What a wonderful quote! Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

    You write a wonderful blog! Into the Google Reader you go! :)

  4. Welcome T, and thank you. I will stroll over your way now and let myself in!


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