I have watched Carl Sagan's "You Are Here (Pale Blue Dot)" speech more times than I can count. In fact, whenever humanity makes me shake my head in bewilderment, I run to YouTube for Sagan's inspiration. For more than a year now, I have been pondering on its meaning beyond what it makes me feel. As I have sat with it, I have challenged myself to discover its deeper meaning and purpose in my life. In my mind, if I could reach that point, then I could somehow reach another level of understanding and a new level of motivation. Below, is a meager attempt to do just that, but let me first preface this by saying, I am not Carl Sagan. His words are beautiful and greater than I could ever string together. With that said, here are my thoughts.
Curiosity is something I admire most about the human race. I am humbled by our insatiable appetite to learn and discover. We possess an amazing and unnerving sense to see the horizon and dare for more. We once looked upon the plains of Africa and wondered what was in the distance. Then, we stood on ocean and sea shores with a desire to know what lay on the other side of the world. All the while, we looked at the stars overhead and thought there must be more to this life. Some of us filled the void with God and Gods. Others looked and thought all of human existence could be understood if only we knew the mysteries of the cosmos.
Now, at this point in time, to look on our heavens and wonder seems more important than ever. With each phase of human exploration, a rallying call was heard around the world. Crossing the plains, oceans, and pointing toward space brought out the best of humanity. We gathered our smartest and bravest. We sent them along with God's speed. Collectively, we did what we could for the effort, but our shared focus was always the driving force. Our world is hungry for that same sense of urgency. When I look at the stars on the rare cloudless Seattle night, I long for our next great adventure. I also see our salvation. We, as human beings, have been unkind to each other and the place we call home. We have killed and bullied. We have brought pain and pollution. We have not left this place as we found it. A time may come when we are called to leave this place and begin anew. Our sense of exploration will be tested once again. Now, we stand not on the precipice of science fiction, but rather on the edge of a new reality.
As we shoot across the galaxy, I hope we discover that we are not alone. I hope we find life beyond the place we call home. With each passing day, I am more convinced this will one day be true. Our shared state in the universe will reveal a new reality. When that moment is announced to the world, everything will change and a pioneering spirit will be reborn. We will be given a second chance. Once more, our smartest and bravest will be called upon to lead. This time, it is my hope they will do so guided by the memories of our failings. As we explore, I hope we never forget those.
I ultimately hope science wins the day. I think faith and religion have had their chance. Countless lives have been lost in the name of some higher power. We have visited pain and torment to others all for something that cannot be proved. I hope reason, peace, and knowledge leads us to realize our fullest potential. I hope we quit hiding behind ancient text. I hope we embrace what science knows to be true. I also hope we freely admit what we don't know and instead of creating Gods for the gaps, we stay curious and continue hunting. I hope the thing I admire most about human civilization never ceases to amaze me.
As I listen to the words of Carl Sagan, these are my simple, yet complicated hopes and desires. Some are within our grasp and others will never be fully realized, but the quest to reach them will continue to inspire me to move forward. In some small way, I hope it does the same for you.
Be good to each other,