Appreciation is a way of life, much more than it is a holiday. Even the capacity and experience of appreciation is a profound gift. I’m sure trees and flowers in their way appreciate sun and rain. Each species shares its special reality. The experience of being human is truly one of the rarest in the living universe – and if we appreciated that, our unity and diversity each day, what a wonderful world it would be.
Pulling back from our personal obsessions with ourselves, our beliefs and cultural divisions, Arab, Jew, Christian, Republican, Progressive, Black, Native, White – pulling way back as the astronauts do in space, we would see that all that divides us really are the mental images generated from an extremely thin layer of cells on top of the brain.
We are in fact all brothers and sisters, one humanity – and very, very privileged at that. And to believe otherwise, to believe that we are different, that our ideology and politics are important enough to kill for is a profound and pervasive form of insanity – a delusion that humanity has suffered from for thousands of years.
On this day of appreciation I celebrate all the wonderful spirits that have contributed to our offerings and I appreciate all that have benefited in some way form our modest efforts. Each is trying in their own way to break the same spell and meet the living world with grace, care and respect. And every moment we do, the earth and everything sharing this precious planet – rejoices.
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.
Quoted from Sagan, Carl (1994). (ad) Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-43841-6
Source: (ad) Michael Mendizza