Pale Blue Dot
Perhaps I am a little bit behind on my lamentations of what is going on in our world, but I’ll just tell myself that it’s better later than never.
In the past month: Paris suffered 7 integrated terrorist attacks. Beirut and Baghdad were bombed as well, although that is a lesser known fact in the popular media. I’ve only seen the three-striped red white and blue flag indicating solidarity. France, in the wake of the Friday’s bombings, bombed Syria that Sunday. Francois Hollande declared without ambiguity that his country is at war. Yesterday, hundreds of tourists were held as hostages by an extremist group in Mali, in southern Africa.
These are just a few salient examples of the tragedy that is Planet Earth. If I wanted to be completely equal-opportunity I could talk about the earthquakes in Japan and Mexico, I could talk about little boys washing up on the beach like driftwood, I could talk about centuries of racial inequality in what is supposed to be the ‘best country’ in the world, I could talk about young women being sold for their bodies, I could talk about millions without food or clean water.
I think that, oddly enough, the answer to these problems comes not from civil engineers or well-intentioned young protesters or presidents or prime ministers, but a well known astronomer from the United States.
Carl Sagan says, “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.”
We are very, very small. However, our relative size does not mean that we are a waste of space. We get one planet, and one life. Maybe if we all decide to live our lives with a little bit more conscientiousness and awareness that everything with a beating heart is at least a little bit like us, we could make our home a better place.