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February 7, 2013 at 3:25 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Upon the Altar

By E.M. Wollof from SLN More Blogs by This Author

"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.

For years have I walked upon thee dear Mother, in one form or another, proud of my ability to do so. From the very beginning I worshiped you and all that you did to provide. I sought you out when I required nourishment. I did look to your gifts when I required shelter. I relied upon your warm embrace when I was cold to my very core, and when you displayed your wrath I smiled in content, knowing that you did so not in anger, merely rejuvenation.

When I looked upon the horizon in wonder, I did so not under the pretense of domination, merely curiosity. When I looked to the sky, it was not in fear, but in pity that something so wonderful such as you should live in solitude. Within this pity I sought to end your loneliness, to give you many more to watch over, to care for you in your great abundance, so I did divide. Upon my division, I looked upon the other in wonder and, for the briefest of moments, I forgot your splendor. I did look upon my creation with great pride, and in my pride I placed myself your equal, your partner, your provider. Thus began my fall.

Little did I know that the other would dream the same dream as I, and I watched in terrible fascination as life spilled from your veins. I watched as it changed, as it morphed into more complex forms and ventured out further upon you then I ever did dream possible. Never did it occur to me to tell them of your splendor, for it seemed they tread carefully.

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.

For millenia I watched with you as life grew like leaves upon the tree, so unique and vivid in construction and behavior. We stood, hand in hand, reveling in the splendor of the world as it was created. Little did we worry of the universe around us until it came crashing down upon the heads of our children. Even as it did so I did not fret, for you whispered to me, "you shall find a way," and I believed.

For many a year did this cycle occur, birth, death, and birth again, and then something extraordinary happened...new, different, life. More brilliant than anything I had ever seen, this life form did stare upon you in wonder, but also in great fear. This fear manifest itself in so many ways that I had to laugh. The innocence, the childlike wonder, it drew me in, and in doing so I forgot you entirely dear Mother.

I wonder often why this occurred. I explain it away as merely the child leaving the womb, as we had witnessed so many times prior. In truth, it was the same curiosity that called me to the horizon. I meant you no harm, and in the beginning that was enough.

As these new life forms grew, they showed you great reverence, though it was not love upon which this admiration spawned, it was, again, fear. They gave your actions names and sacrificed themselves in the hopes you may answer in kind. Clever beings they can be, but so full of their own potential, they think themselves your master. A mistake I wish I had corrected, but what could I have done?

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. Out 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.

For years they spread across your beautiful face, defeating grave terror in your name and continuing to call you Mother. Up until this time, I was rather at peace with what we had begun, or I had begun, but I could not foresee the horror these miniscule beings could create purely by their will alone. It was at this time, they began to look beyond your beauty, into the unknown reaches of space, but they did so not under the pretense of providing you comfort, but themselves.

These young, slavering beasts began to spread word of a being greater than you, greater than the Universe itself, a creator beyond even their own understanding. They created many in his image and merely counted you a backdrop to this creation, a staging for the master play that was them. In this creation they steadily began to forget it was you who provided for them, that it was you who sheltered them from the cold emptiness of space, that it was you who kept them planted firmly upon your face.

Then the digging began and all was lost for them. They dug deep and drank greedily of your gifts, and in their thirst they found they could use your tools to dominate. They began to construct their own world upon your face, ignorant to the life they were stealing by doing so. Each brick stacked high moved them further and further away from you dear Mother. In their conquering they thought themselves gods, only using the like to pacify their own kind, wretched, filthy, beasts that they are.

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.

There were some, as there still are, who recognized the pain you felt and attempted to stand for you, but the great ones had dug too deeply into their own legend, they dare not look back. Forward only they would fly, headlong to their demise.

For a great many years have they expanded, continuing to ignore your cries of protest. It is only now that they begin to see their faults, only now that they truly begin to grasp how small their place is in the expanse of life, how precious you are. I fear it is too late now, for them. Their arrogance is deeply seeded in their creations and they look not upon you in wonder, nor do they look to the sky in curiosity. So consumed are they in viewing you through their private lens, they have forgotten the power your splendor holds. Onward do they hurl.

So, here I return to you dear Mother and cry out for your aid, but you answer only in silence, much like you have done for ages. I do not think they will last much longer upon the path they tread, hating themselves for what they have become, forgetting their very structure came from the same source and shall return there always.

If only they could see how small they are, how every brilliant scheme they have ever had pales in comparison to your mere existence. If only they could understand how rare it is for them to even be alive, perhaps then they would appreciate your gifts.

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 Sagan

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