Category Archives: #ScienceNotSilence

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.”

Not an Instruction Manual

Goddammit, Trump, 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual.

Neither was Brave New World.

But just as people mistake Machiavelli’s The Prince as an instruction manual instead of the social satire that it was intended as, there are certain people within the government who just want our nation to descend into an ideologically-driven dark age.

Diversity. Entitlement. Evidence-based. Fetus. Science-based. Transgender. Vulnerable. These are the words that the Center for Disease Control is no longer allowed to use when creating budget documents. The CDC is charged with keeping the citizens of the United States healthy. Here is their mission statement:

CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.

The CDC has already been hobbled by the powers-that-be (the NRA, for example) in not being allowed to perform studies regarding guns and the danger they pose in the US. This further hampering does nothing to further the CDC’s mission, and will harm the vulnerable members of our society.

Sigh.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t often post about politics in my blog or in social media. First, most of the people who follow me already know where I stand. Second, most of the people I follow feel the same way. And third, I’m unlikely to change any minds anyway. Certainly, this blog post won’t make it to the administration officials who offered this ludicrous policy, and even if it did, they wouldn’t be moved by it. “Another snowflake liberal complaining about the lawfully-elected President blah blah blah,” they chortle as they make their way to the bank.

It’s frustrating how powerless I feel in the face of these forces.

That’s not to say I’ve done nothing. I’ve written emails. I’ve faxed. I’ve texted. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve made phone calls to my senators and to my Congressional representative, all of whom, fortunately, feel the same as I do.

I can only hope that American citizens will come back to their senses and restore sanity to our government and society in 2018. If that doesn’t happen… Well, I don’t know. I shudder to think what damage Trump and his sycophants will do to the nation before 2020. We’re already going to spend decades fixing the damage they’ve already done. And I fear that worse is yet to come.

We have always been at war with Eastasia, I suppose.


‘Tis the season for Holidailies, where you may find more cheerful blogs.