Excerpted from a commencement address delivered May 11, 1996. Dr. Carl Sagan's book Pale Blue Dot expands on these ideas. The image is from Voyager 1, 1990.

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every 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.

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 in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot,
the only home we've ever known."




Iraq: more than 650,000 civilians and over 4,529 Coalition soldiers - dead from war. Darfur: over 400,000 people, dead. Israel and Palestine: over 5,400 people since 2000. The Congo: 3,000,000 since 1998. Mumbai. Chechnya. Afghanistan. New York. Sri Lanka. Lebanon. Our Sons and Daughters. Husbands and Wives. Sisters and Brothers. Parents and Friends. It's enough already. All you "leaders" out there, listen. We - the people - want peace, please. NOW!

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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