The Pale Blue Dot


When I’m not in Northern Virginia I am at Lake Anna at a house that belongs to my Mom. Being there is good for my soul. Good for Brock, too. From where our house sits on the lake we can see an entire mile across to the other side. There’s nothing quite like wide open spaces. Including when one looks up into the darkened sky of a rural environment, far away from the city lights. We do a lot of star gazing at the lake. We can see entire galaxies. And always, always shooting stars. Looking at the stars gives me perspective. This quote from Carl Sagan is one of my favorites. Carl reminds us that the huge planet we call home is actually a pale blue dot in the grand scope of the universe. Carl says remembering who we are in the universe reminds us to be more kind to each other, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot.

Good advice wouldn’t you say?


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.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

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.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. 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.
― Carl SaganPale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space


Peace friends,


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  • MARIANNE says:

    Love this Chuck. I love that you love gazing at the stars. Did you know Nick has a passion for that too, and owns a really nice telescope that he bought with birthday and Holy Communion gift money when he was in elementary school? And that he attended space camp when he was 11? Did you know my husband spent the summer we met courting me at Lake Anna, teaching me to water ski on that water, 33 and a half years ago? Love that lake, love that quote, love those memories.

  • The McDonalds says:

    Wide Open Spaces! One of the many reasons we love living in Colorado. I love your perspective, Chuck. Happy New Year from all the McDonalds!

  • Mary says:

    Thank you.

  • barbara says:

    Thank you for sharing Carl Sagan’s words about our planet. Have not read them before but have always believed that any meeting of world leaders,church leaders, cult leaders, military leaders should be held at the edge of any one of our great oceans and then have them proceed with talks of war, atomic tests, sonar tests, climate change. Like your sense of wonder at the lake, we are humbled.

  • Kathy says:

    I don’t believe I’ve read this before…thank you for sharing Chuck. Much to ponder as we begin a New Year on this small dot called home! God bless!

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