Look to the stars for life's truths
December 20, 1996, was a sad day, a day of great loss. It was the day that Carl Sagan, astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science communicator, outstanding orator and massive intellect died.
The world lost a great deal on that date. Fortunately, Sagan left an incredible legacy that has the potential to continue influencing the inhabitants of this planet.
In addition to communicating the science, Sagan communicated the relevance of that science to our daily lives, communities and, most importantly, our civilisation and evolution.
Courtesy of YouTube, you can still hear Sagan’s dulcet tones communicating profound messages. One such message is woven into a piece entitled, “Pale Blue Dot’, which you can watch here.
Think about that for a minute!
That insignificance is further compounded when we consider that humans live approximately 35-90 years (depending on where they reside), that we're just one of some 13 billion homosapiens born over the past 100,000 years, and many more million human-like beings born in the previous million years, on a planet that has been in existence for more than 4.5 billion years.
Given the science, I'm sure you appreciate the point I am making - not just about the insignificance of us as individual humans, but about the human race in general.
Now contemplate the fact that human kind has identified nearly 9 million species of animal here on Earth, with new ones being discovered weekly. So human beings may be just one of 10 million species on one small planet, in one small solar system, etc etc.
We are just not that significant in the scheme of things. But to embrace this, is to start the process of taking on a humility that many of our leaders, celebrities, sports stars, politicians, business leaders and the like appear all too short of. So many people think they are significant and in the scheme if things, they are not. We are all just specks of dust breathing for a speck in time.
This is not to say we are unimportant. We are. Every life, human and otherwise, is important for the period of time it breathes and possible beyond that point for many. But they are not, in the overall scheme of things, significant.
What is more, it is high time we all took a deep breath and embraced out insignificance - and the humility and rational sense of perspective this may lead to. The outcome of this may well be fewer narcissistic leaders such as Trump and Assard, and fewer destructive leaders such as Hitler and Stalin.
Greater humility founded in the realisation of human kind's insignificance may also result in popes taking themselves less seriously, queens being seen for what they are, movie stars losing some of their confected luster and footballers recognising they are just passing ships in the night.
I suspect that many people fear this sense of insignificance. I believe it is liberating. It frees us from the expectation that we need to be significant. It enables us to put the special people in our community in some rational perspective.
It will never stop me wanting to have an impact on my world, but it will ensure that I never see that impact as making me significant.
I am just another tiny being in a massive universe doing what I can to hopefully influence a very small part of that universe.