Kindness as a Cosmic Virtue

This is not the “official” video of Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot”, but it’s my favorite.

My favorite line of this speech is at the end:

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.

I agree whole-heartedly with this quote, with the entire message of this speech. It’s why I find the state of the world right now so distressing: Far too many people find far too many ideologies that allow themselves to be cruel to each other. Anti-semitism is on the rise now. Racism is on the rise. Kindness and sympathy are cast aside, and that casting is seen as a virtue by folks on both sides of the political divide.

But in the end, what matters is how kind we are to each other. Neil DeGrasse Tyson said:

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

Every kindness and cruelty that we experience or visit onto others takes place on the same tiny little dust mote in the same Cosmos. I don’t think this is at all meaningless; on the contrary, being kind is a vast responsibility. A cosmic one.

When Peter Capaldi ended his tenure as the Doctor in the British TV series Doctor Who, before he regenerated into Jodie Whitaker, he gave a marvelous speech about the importance of being kind in the cosmos. I can’t remember it, and I can’t find it online anywhere (maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough). But some of the Twelfth Doctor’s words about kindness remain embedded in my brain: “Without hope, without witness, without reward. Be kind.” And also: “Love hard, run fast, be kind.”

And, of course, in the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever”, Kirk tells us that somewhere in the galaxy in the 22nd century some poet suggests that “Let me help” is a more loving statement than “I love you.”

So in the middle of this vast Cosmos, be kind to the Earth and the people who inhabit it. It is, after all, all we have. And as Carl Sagan also said, “For such small creatures as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”

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