A few days ago I joined in a conversation on a Yahoo news item relating to the creation of “Synthia” in a lab by scientist Craig Ventner and his team; you know the story.
I keep telling myself not to comment on Yahoo, for two reasons. Firstly there are so many childish, inane comments posted on (what are occasionally) serious news articles. Secondly, I always seem to end up being attacked by an extreme right-winger (or several) because I have taken a particular moral or ethical stance espousing “thought for others”, while they slam their “gimme, gimme, gimme… the devil take the hindmost… I’m an American… I’m the boss… go screw yourself !” vitriole at all and sundry.
This day was no exception.
As soon as I mentioned that I thought we should “think more about our place in the universe and stop acting like Gods” all hell let loose from the right wing.
Thankfully there was one level-headed individual on there who, by strictly analysing the words that were used and keeping emotion out of things, tried to act as mediator, but I very soon left the debate thinking, once again, “is it any surprise the world is in such a mess ?”.
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of 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.”
“no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits”…. If only more people would open their minds to these words.
We, humans, have for too long put ourselves “above nature”. That is not good for the other life forms on this (or any other) planet and, in the long term, will lead to our own extinction.
And yes, the irony is not lost on me that it is our ability to do just that (put ourselves above nature) that enables us to see pictures such as this. But still we don’t learn.