This photo was taken years ago by the Voyager Spacecraft as it was approaching outer space and leaving our solar system. It would be the last photo taken by Voyager. Voyager was launched in the mid-1970s as a space craft designed to get us up close and personal to our many solar system neighbors. It has sent us amazing photos of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Voyager’s payload includes a golden record of the sounds of earth so perhaps an interplanetary archaeologist may one day find this record and understand there is a civilization in all of that darkness. The record is designed to last over a billion years and will exist long after we are gone. Voyager one day will likely be the only evidence that we ever existed. As we all know, in time, the sun will begin its process of dying and will at some point super heat and eviscerate all life on our planet and there is nothing we can do to stop it. But this is not supposed to be a sad post, more hopeful.
I saw this picture of the earth not too long ago and I heard the story of Voyager’s quest from an episode of RadioLab. One profound thought I had was – damn, everything that we have experienced, from emerging from the primordial ooze to our greatest feats as humans, all of it, has taken place on this one little blue dot floating in space. Every war, every child born, every hurricane, every kiss, all have happened in this one, small pinprick of a place. The Grand Canyon is not so grand now, while the smallest fly now seems so significant. None of us can escape it or leave. We must remain, forever.
So if this is all we have then I have to begin to question why we feel compelled to treat it, and each other so poorly. Recently my family and I, like so many others, went through Hurricane Irma. It was an awful storm for many but for us it was more of and inconvenience. There was lots of wind, some damage, the power went out. But for the most part it was fine. Many of our friends were not so lucky. Some lost everything. Over 30 people died. But through it all I saw so much amazing and depressing. I witnessed the man who gave his generator up to a woman who needed it for her father. I saw first responders forgoing their personal safety to help others, and I saw people donate their money and time to help others clean up and get folks whole again.
But I also saw some pretty terrible things. People hoarding needed items for themselves and then charging five times their value to desperate folks, road rage as people evacuated, I even had my bank card skimmed and they took over $2,700 from my bank account. I saw the worst of people. And these actions hurt my heart because they showed how little we care for and respect each other. Much of it made no sense because we all need to stay on the same blue dot.
You see, I am a person who does not believe that we die and then live forever. While I can believe in a God, Singularity, or just health science the chances are by 2,073 I will be dead and gone. No more Miami Dolphins rants, no more Great Food Truck Race on Food Network, no more music. And every good and bad thing that I would have done will die with me. Within 50 years of my death every human who ever knew me will have also died. I will be like I have never existed. So with all of that I must be accountable to myself to ensure that my life has not been one of greed and personal power but instead one of love and caring. Because while I may not be able to stop the inevitable death of our planet by an expanding supernova I can make sure that I lived a life where I cared for my fellow blue dot travelers.
Right now seems to be a scary time for those of us who believe in love. The current occupant of the White House rejects love and kindness for selfish gains and the personal drug of insult. We have people who believe that they are genetically superior to others based on the color of their skin, we look to extend the patriarchy, and we feel that if a person is hurt or offended by hate speech that somehow makes them weak. None of this makes sense. After all, this is all we have. We need to make it work. Its time to stand up for live and compassion and while we may one day go down with the planet we can at least live up to the beauty of that Golden Record. That humanity is good, that we are good.