Though humanity is capable of such cruelty, it is also capable of tremendous love, compassion, and industriousness. I have always found Carl Sagan to be an inspired man who was passionate and optimistic about our ability to work together to achieve greatness. But he was always well-aware of our potential do harm:
“And our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical branch-point in the history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition, or greed, or stupidity we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance.”
However, there is always a glimmer of hope; like a calling deep within each one of us to follow the path of compassion, of hopefulness, and common decency. We are all capable of contributing to the uplifting of humankind, each in our own unique way, and each way just as important as another. We don’t all have to rally the masses; that’s not everyone’s calling. But in our own still and quiet way, we can make better choices, first, by uplifting ourselves, then by helping up another.
Each person’s greatest good might simply be to live an honest life; to treat each other as we want to be treated; and to recognize that our children are looking to see what we will do next. It’s a big responsibility. And in these turbulent times (and there is always turbulence somewhere), it is ever more important for us to stand together and demonstrate tolerance, empathy, responsibility, and equanimity in the face of the challenges of life.
Certainly our actions mean more than what happens next in our own lives. In the future, our children will reflect our behavior, our choices, and our actions, based on the life we are living today; based on how we lead by example. And the quality of our future and that of our children depends on how we respond today to our most pressing and urgent issues. Will we apply critical reasoning or will we rely on blind faith as a knee-jerk reaction to what we encounter?
Personally, I believe this is an important message for humanity. The inspirational words from Carl Sagan speak of hope and of our potential to heal our planet and its inhabitants:
“But, we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe, and to carry us to the stars.”
Carl Sagan – Cosmos
These quotes and video are from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, episode 8, “Journeys in Space and Time.” If you’re interested in purchasing this, I’ve included my Amazon affiliate link that will take you to the page where you can read reviews. You don’t have to use the link, but if you do, I will get a small commission and you will have my sincere gratitude. Whether you use my link or not, the Cosmos series is my all-time favorite PBS series and was responsible for filling my young mind with a sense of wonder and appreciation for space and all of life. It’s worth checking out. If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts about Carl Sagan and Cosmos in the comments below.