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05/06/2014

Humbling Words from Carl Sagan

saganThe Cornell Alumni Magazine had a wonderful article recently, on its famous former professor, Carl Sagan. Here is my favorite Sagan quote from that article:

Look again at that dot. . . . On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. . . .

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. . . .

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.

And I guess there is no better way to demonstrate the folly of me ever trying to be a great writer than to peruse those profound paragraphs.

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