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Look to the stars for life's truths

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About DJC

The older I get, the less I know and the more inquisitive I get.

Unfortunately, despite a lifelong search, most of the answers elude me. That said, I love to ask the questions and fuel the debates that will ultimately lead us all to a better understanding of the big issues in life, the universe and everything.

They say that we spend 98% of our lives in our head. I for one would like to use that time as effectively as possible.

It's a way to put ourselves - and those "special" people in our community - into rational perspective.

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.

We are just not that significant in the scheme of things - and that is good! Picture: iStock.

We are just not that significant in the scheme of things - and that is good! Picture: iStock

Some say Sagan was a great scientist. Others say he was a great communicator, or suggest that he was one of the first to popularise science on television. I believe he was all of these things and more. Above all, he was a brilliant man who understood and communicated the link between science and philosophy.

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.

Carl Sagan - Pale Blue Dot

For me, the inescapable message in this piece is that we are all insignificant in the scheme of things. Individual human beings, no matter what they achieve, are just one creature on a tiny part of a small planet, in a solar system buried in a small galaxy in perhaps one of many universes.

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.

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