I’ve been doing a bunch of research for my first eBook on the topic of life purpose. A few times during the research process, I came across Carl Sagan’s timeless Pale Blue Dot speech.
I always stop what I’m doing to take a few minutes to read or watch it again. It may be the single best thing I’ve ever found to set (or reset) perspective. You can check out a video (of the audio) or read the transcript below.
The Voyager 1 space probe took the famous Pale Blue Dot photo from 3.7 billion miles away from Earth — it had been traveling in space for over 12 years at the time the picture was taken.
I’ve mentioned the Pale Blue Dot on the blog twice before if you’re interested:
Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot
Pale Blue Dot Transcript
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different.
Consider again 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
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I like how carl sagan mentioned that astronomy is humbling because we can see so much more out there and every man-made problem is non-existent there. My son was assigned by his philosophy teacher a book to review. He was given a Pale Blue Dot First Edition Signed and his professor insisted to take good care of it.
That’s awesome, Afton!