On Feb. 14, 1990, famed scientist Carl Sagan gave us an incredible perspective on our home planet that had never been seen before. As NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft was about to leave our Solar System in 1989, Carl Sagan, who was a member of the mission’s imaging team, pleaded with officials to turn the camera around to take one last look back at Earth before the spaceship left our solar system.
The resulting image, with the Earth as a speck less than 0.12 pixels in size, became known as “the pale blue dot.”
Sagan would later write about the photograph — and the deeper meaning he gleaned from it — in his 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.”
What he wrote completely changed my perception of the world I live in and how I treat others. I believe everyone should read this at least once in their lifetime.
The Pale Blue Dot By Carl Sagan
“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 spilt 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 harbour 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.”