“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” – Carl Sagan
These are troubling times, we are a society with trouble, ours is a troubled world. Human brutality brutally dehumanizing, systematic and systematized violence, institutional oppression and oppressive institutions are the realities of our day – regardless of perspective, regardless of whether or not one chooses to turn a blind eye to them.
I tend not to raise my voice on our issues through social media; I believe actions in the societal arena speak louder than words. Must one march to solve our woes? Maybe. I can’t claim I do. Must one debate those whose opinions they find deplorable? Maybe. I tend to keep clear of such confrontation. Perhaps I am a bystander, and I concede there are no innocent bystanders. I acknowledge this. Still, I wonder: must one respect the sanctity that is another’s humanity and personhood, regardless of one’s perceptions and prejudices? To that, I believe in a resounding ‘Yes.’ It is a step – not a solution, but a step – toward righting what’s wrong.
And, must one take the time to stare at the stars each night? Such will not end racism; will not solve global catastrophe; will not fix or reform or change broken systems or institutions. Yet to this, I believe too in a ‘Yes.’
Ours is a troubled world – and an infinitesimally small one. We do not readily recognize it in our daily lives; our concerns and considerations, contemplations and confrontations revolve around the immediate, the local, the contemporary. We think too much of ourselves – and, it seems, too little of others – to realize that we are all, together, spinning on a tiny speck of dust in an only slightly larger carousel of planets through a tiny galaxy in a vast, enormous, grand universe. That we live and die, that societies rise and fall, that civilizations come and perish, in a cosmic blink-of-the-eye.
Look at the stars. Everyone should look at the stars. Tiny dots of light, billions of miles away, that are in actuality burning balls of gas thousands of times larger than the world we call our own.
Look at the stars and realize that our neighbors, our neighborhood, our city, our state, our society, our country, our world are all we have, all we can lean on, all we can relate to in even the most minute way, in an existence of otherwise vast indifference.
Look at the stars and realize that at none of them, not a single one, is there another form of life that feels, thinks, fears, dreams, loves, and hates in comparable ways as you, if not ways similar to you, if not the same as you.
Look at the stars and consider that, in a universe of trillions of stars and uncountable planets, there are only 7 billion human beings. There are only 7 billion souls – more galaxies there are, than souls.
Look at the stars and realize that each life is precious. For, in a hundred billion other galaxies, you will not find another – only on this troubled world, only in the eyes of the person you may hate or deplore or despise or revile, will you encounter another soul.
Will this end racism? No. Will this mend race relations? No. Will this stop hunger and poverty and war and hate and suffering and terror and torture? No. Might it shift perspectives just a little bit; move the needle a little forward toward progress; slightly alter the context we see each other in? I think so. It does for me.
It’s not a solution. It may seem trite or trifling to some. But it’s a step. And at times like these, little steps forward seem to be what we have.
Look at the stars tonight.