Tomorrow is Earth Day 2019. I recently read a piece about Carl Sagan in Maria Popova’s book, Figuring. She quotes a passage from Carl Sagan’s book, A Pale Blue Dot, about the picture taken from Voyager I on February 14, 1990 showing the Earth from 4 billion miles away looking back towards the Sun. Our home appears as a “pale blue dot,” seemingly minuscule in the vastness of space. Here is a vivid and poetic description of Sagan’s view of Earth from the book.
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
These words are so real. They clearly describe the world we all share together. Each of us, and all the living creatures that share it with us, share it equally. Why do we create so much havoc in our home and destroy so many of the living creatures that inhabit it? I wonder.
Today I found his poem by Mary Oliver, which captures how I feel about “our home” and our responsibility to care for her, as well as all the living creatures that call Earth their home. Wonder with me as you read this beautiful poem.
Every day I’m still looking at God
and I’m still finding him everywhere,
in the dust, in the flowerbeds.
Certainly in the oceans,
in the islands that lay in the distance
continents of ice, countries of sand
each with its own set of creatures
and God, by whatever name.
How perfect to be aboard a ship with
maybe a hundred years still in my pocket.
But it’s late, for all of us,
and in truth the only ship there is
is the ship we are all on
burning the world as we go.
This is the one and only ship we will inhabit together. No other ship will come and rescue us from the products of our greed. Living on another planet is not a solution to our folly. It is only us, all of us, who can work together, solve together, play together, learn together and live together. If we don’t do this well, we will see our home destroyed in some way for our future offspring and the offspring of all living things.
Let’s use Earth Day 2019 as a time to rethink our approach, to rethink whether being climate change denier is the best strategy for survival on our one and only home.