'Pale Blue Dot' Continues to Remind Us of Humanity's Fragility: Take a Moment to Consider it

Friday, 13 December 2019 - 12:27PM
Friday, 13 December 2019 - 12:27PM
'Pale Blue Dot' Continues to Remind Us of Humanity's Fragility: Take a Moment to Consider it
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There are a few videos that, like certain books or essays, I like to return to every so often as they have the power to initiate a recalibration of values. These things remind me of what matters when I find myself exhausted, frustrated, and gripped by the black fell of depression that tends to wash over me when I stare too long into the abyss of human malevolence and stupidity, as it has this week as I, and the rest of the New York tri-state area, has borne witness to both an anti-semitic terrorist mass murder that claimed the life of a police officer and the senseless murder of an 18-year-old Barnard College student.


Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot," based on text from his book of the same name, is one of those videos. 


"Look again at that dot," Sagan says. "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."


I hold no illusions that it will change anything about humanity, move anyone to deal more kindly with anyone else, or trigger a change of heart in the politicians and billionaires whose wealth is derived from the destruction of the planet and the suffering of others. I do, however, hope that it will offer some respite to those who, like me, occasionally need a break from the endless stream of bad news, inane commentary, media noise, and malignant narcissism that seems to have become the prevailing atmospheric force sometime in the last decade. 


Take a moment to consider it. 

Science
Space