As I write, our country finds itself on the precipice of another war. How did it come to this? I once believed I had an inkling of how these events unfold, but I was wrong. My voice is just another drunk at the end of the bar, pontificating and moralizing with whoever will listen about subjects well outside my intellectual grasp.
We can only speculate as to the psychology involved in commanding the greatest military in history. The only issue I’m certain of is the core responsibilities must be overwhelming. The current occupant of the presidency is simply one more character in the continuing saga of conflict that dogs our species…it never seems to end.
I demonstrated against war in my youth. I will do so again. War is not the answer.
What better occasion to reflect on the timeless words of 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 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.
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.”
Welcome to the new year edition of Central Standard Time. These extraordinary writers in our midst offer a new set of essays sure to stimulate conversation. Let’s sit together and talk. The coffee is on.
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