Carl Sagan’s marvellous, awe-inspiring ‘Pale Blue Dot’ speech puts Life, the Universe, and Everything* into perspective.
Carl Sagan: 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. 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 (1934–1996)
The transcript above was made with the help of Sonix, which did most of the donkey work for a tiny fee (I did have to spend some time tidying it up). Note that I do not have the copyright owner’s permission to publish this transcript here. I’ve investigated the copyright rules regarding transcriptions (more about that here), and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s no defence to make a disclaimer like “these aren’t my words, no copyright infringement intended.” However, I offer the transcription here as a service to society (especially the deaf community). I do hope the copyright owner won’t object. And I hope that you find this video as interesting as I did.
* Carl would have been 86 now. Which is 42 (in base 21).