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. —Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi
When the Earth is seen from this vantage point, we may recall the words of the Psalmist: When I consider the heavens...what is man that thou art mindful of him? This image, perhaps more than any other, is a picture of the place where our finite little world and the infinite meet. Even the most experienced world traveler, who has been to every corner of the globe, can only boast that they have gone from one side of the dot to the other. Of what account are our discoveries and advancements in science? Our loves, our hates, our worries, our squabbles, and even our wars seem petty when measured against the infinite cosmos. In the end, we are just travellers together on an 8000 mile wide ball of rock with only two miles of breathable atmosphere between us and oblivion.
Carl Sagan had hoped that this photograph would change our perspective and our behavior:
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 with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.The certainty that we have a right to the life we are living, that the universe "owes us", ought to be tempered. Rather we should be aware of the obligation we owe our fellow travellers. Hopefully this image and the perspective it conveys would form our resolutions as we begin a new year to "deal more kindly with one another".