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 can 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 this scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatred. Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in this universe are challenged by this point of pale light.
As the ancient myth makers knew, we’re children equally of the earth and the sky. In our tenor on this planet, we’ve accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage – propensities for aggressions and ritual, submissions to leaders, hostility to outsiders – all of which puts our survival in some doubt. But we’ve also acquired compassion for others, love for our children, a desire to learn from history and experience, and a great, soaring, passionate intelligence – the clear tools for our continued survival and prosperity.
Which aspects of our nature will prevail is uncertain, particularly when our visions and prospects are bound to one small part of this small planet earth. But up there in the cosmos, an inescapable perspective awaits. National boundaries are not evident when we view the earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the vast citadel of the stars.