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Friday, June 13, 2008

For Those Who Still See Us vs. Them

Red vs. Blue, Me Against You.

(Which is still probably about 99.9% of the planet. I don't think the US has this category locked up, although we're doing a damn good job as a frontrunner.)

"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

Or watch and listen here:

And one last very cool version here.


Anonymous June 13, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

That video sent me into an existentialist tailspin, the first time I ever saw it. There are too many concepts to entertain when gazing at it.

I need some chocolate...

christina June 13, 2008 at 9:54 AM  

To think that I am in that simple but beautiful paragraph of humans you describe. It so reminds me that I have a peaceful, complicated, but so worth it job to do. I love this post.. and life.


tangobaby June 13, 2008 at 1:56 PM  

Hi Johanna,

Please get some chocolate...

I see these videos (and the words that inspired them) to be extremely powerful and uplifting. I like when things are put in perspective.


Hi Christina,

Thank you for such a hearfelt addendum. Reading this essay is one thing, but putting it into practice, thinking about it and making it part of your mindset is another.

You're a very inspiring lady.

Anonymous June 14, 2008 at 4:48 AM  

Great post but instead of confident religions i would say unnecessary religions. cosmic time and dimensions makes sky gods that answer our prayers and control our destiny so illogical.

tangobaby June 14, 2008 at 5:35 AM  

Dear Anonymous,

Your comment unfortunately underscores exactly what I mean by Us vs. Them.

People are condescending and divisive from either side of the spectrum, whether it's from an atheistic or religious point of view.

Sagan used the word "confident" for a reason. He wasn't passing judgement on others by choosing the word "unneccessary" instead.

I think you've missed the point here entirely. Your edit speaks volumes.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan June 15, 2008 at 7:13 AM  

Sometimes a comment doesn't do justice to thoughts. You've said it all, absolutely all, and summed up human existence.
We think we're so much more than we are, as a species I mean. Individually we're all as important as our neighbour even if it doesn't feel like it when they park in your one parking space and make noise at 3 am ;)
Thank you for this. You are gifted.

paris parfait June 16, 2008 at 2:35 PM  

Brilliant! Thanks for sharing the words and the video. If only more people could grasp the concept that we all are more alike than we are different. xoxox

tangobaby June 17, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

Dear Paris Parfait,

I know you do your share to tell the same truths. I'm glad you liked the words and video. I think this piece is something worth reading often.

jfrancis January 2, 2009 at 4:33 PM  

a blue world
among the stars,
chosen for life
and the journey
through eternity.