It is a supreme pleasure in my life when I encounter something that says what I want to say, or have said, or thought I was saying, in such an elegant way that its saying has escaped me. Mind you, this is not an uncommon occurrence - for all of my conceits, I only wish I was as eloquent as so many of my heros & peers. But when I came across the extended Sagan quote in last Sunday's 'Cosmos', it summed up everything I've been trying to say - and been trying to live - for three decades.
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.
Every social, economic, political, metaphysical thought I've ever had has started from this precept. This Earth is common. This Earth is the only existence we have.
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.Despite our pride, heartfelt beliefs, experience, hopes, dreams and nightmares, we are stuck together on a tiny planet, that while it seems enormous, unfathomable and beyond the possibility of our comprehension, is actually that shared speck of dust in a much more unfathomable world.
We seem to give up too soon when apprehending our world. We can 'know' that it extends past the reality of our lives. We can 'hope' that it will change. But both of those projections, in our daily lives, don't reflect the universe. They obfuscate the real for a reality. A reality that undermines our own existence.
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.We need to see past the horizon of what we think possible. We need to see past the cynicism, the entrenched hierarchies, the economic, social and political institutions that reiterate "the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner".
We must, first and foremost, think of ourselves as a common species, on a common planet, adrift in a universe that is so vast, that our very existence is precious - more precious than any myopic advantage of our current institutional order.
We are homo sapiens. ALL OF US.
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.If we have any hope as a species, we need to make this planet work. We need to take it back from those who could care less, who would end it for their own glory.
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 dotThis is what we're up against. It's time we educated the world that this is not the way it needs to be. Indeed, if we accept this world, we willfully accept our own destruction as a species.