MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

The Folly of Human Conceits

with 6 comments

A photo by Voyager 1 of our planet Earth taken from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. The photo is popularly known as "Pale Blue Dot."

A photo by Voyager 1 of our planet Earth taken from a distance of 6 billion kilometers. The photo is popularly known as “Pale Blue Dot.”

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.

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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Written by MattAndJojang

August 5, 2015 at 10:36 am

6 Responses

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  1. Honestly, I can’t figure out how I’ve missed this for all these years. The photo’s from 1990 — only a blink in the larger scheme of things, but still…

    Sagan’s words are a perfect accompaniment to a photo that could induce vertigo if a person looked at it long enough. Are we alone? The answer from faith seems to be, “Yes, maybe, and no.” 🙂

    shoreacres

    August 5, 2015 at 10:51 am

  2. Love this photo, Linda. You’re right: our lives are just a blink in the larger scheme of things. And looking at this photo helps put our concerns in the right perspective.

    As to the question: “Are we alone?” I’m a bit optimistic; probably we’re not. In the words of Ellie Arroway, the main character in one of Carl Sagan’s novels, “If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.”

    –Matt

    MattAndJojang

    August 5, 2015 at 11:12 am

  3. Thank you for this great reminder – something the world would have us forget. “It’s not all about you.” A humbling reality. But at the same time, one that leads us to a great truth — we are nothing, yet the One who created this vast amazing universe loved us enough to die for us. So happy to have found your blog!
    – Emy

    Pinoy Roots

    September 5, 2015 at 9:39 am

  4. Emy, it’s sad that we live in a self-centered and selfish society, so much so that we are callous to the cries and suffering of the poor and the needy. For me, this was dramatically demonstrated some of the leaders in Europe who refused to help the refugees from war-torn countries, like Syria and Iraq.

    It’s indeed time for us to be reminded that life is not only about us, our creature concerns and comforts. It’s also time to realize that in this vast, amazing universe we are so small yet loved by a God whose mercy and compassion knows no end. Indeed I agree with the Psalmist when he said:

    “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
    what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?”

    — Psalm 8:3-4

    Thank for taking the time to visit our blog and sharing your thoughts with us…

    –Matt

    MattAndJojang

    September 6, 2015 at 7:58 pm

  5. Here’s another great visual reminder of our smallness in this vast universe –
    http://m.space.com/30590-solar-system-built-to-scale-in-nevada-desert-video.html

    I was blessed to see the Holy Father yesterday. Truly, he is one humble man who lives out the truth – the truth of our smallness and at the same time the truth of God’s great love for all of us and His faithfulness.

    Pinoy Roots

    September 27, 2015 at 12:01 pm

  6. Great project! Lovely video! Thanks for sharing, Emy. By the way, love the James Irwin quote.

    You’re so fortunate to have seen Pope Francis up close. Although were from the Philippines, I and my wife, Jojang, also followed Pope Francis’ US visit activities through cable tv. Due to time differences, admittedly, we’ve lost some sleep watching him. But it was worth it.

    We’ve been inspired by his masses and speeches. But above all by the way he lives his life — he lives what he preaches, he walks his talk. His simplicity, humility, compassion and mercy never fails to inspire us, and motivates us to be better human beings.

    I and my wife love Pope Francis!

    — Matt

    MattAndJojang

    September 29, 2015 at 6:10 pm


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