Who Will Speak for Spaceship Earth
The Pale Blue Dot is a photograph of Earth taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles. (About one third down in the sunbeam on the right)
I have quoted Carl Sagan’s eloquent words on the Pale Blue Dot in a few past articles. But I am at a loss to express the deep concern I, like many others, have about the future of life on Earth, especially for children to come. I return to Sagan because few other humans have had his vision to see our planet, and the miracle of life aboard it, from the cosmic perspective needed to bring humanity together as the People of Spaceship Earth
Global warming (ship overheating) and the growing danger of nuclear war increasingly threaten any desirable road forward. Indeed, the two are mutually, and disastrously, reenforcing. The rising level of international military aggression, fostered largely by my own nation, the United States, is also a major perpetrator of, and obstacle to addressing, the problems of global warming. And as climate change and global warming increasingly endanger and displace large numbers of people, the resort to militarism becomes ever more likely.
Tragically, we have few politicians or military heads in America who have the vision to see beyond an egocentric and imperialistic, unipolar, US controlled world “order.” This has led to America’s “exceptional” doctrine of “full spectrum dominance” – a national pathology of echo chamber minds. The US military budget now approaches a trillion dollars each year – more than the next nine largest nations combined – to dominate, and if deemed necessary, terminate other people.
The reader will please forgive, but I cannot call America’s political, economic, and military elite “leaders.” They are not. They are ideologically lost souls – the mentally impaired product of decades of intellectual inbreeding that has obliterated their ability to see beyond the level of an insecure collective national personality that must dominate rather than cooperate, “win” rather than live and let live. This has been the historic downfall of all past empires – the inevitable decay of leadership. America is no exception. Continuing down the road currently provided by American “leadership” is suicidal insanity and the farthest possible drift from the vision of Spaceship Earth. I speak harshly, but the current danger to all humanity cannot be exaggerated.
Sagan’s words should be the homily, the vespers, the never-ending prayer of all humanity. Please take the time to watch the two short videos from Sagan and read his words below. Each of us must speak for Spaceship Earth:
“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 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 dot.
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