Don’t adjust your monitors or your glasses…that’s not a piece of dust on the screen…and I really did mean to post this picture. What you are seeing is our home from 4 billion miles out in space. Kind of puts things in persective doesn’t it? Now, you may be asking yourself, what does this picture of what Carl Sagan (1994) referred to as “The Pale Blue Dot” have to do with working out, boot camp challenges, 30 Day Shreds, or Hit It! Kickboxing, or really anything else that is typically posted here? Well, it all started with Washington University’s 149th Commencement and Steven Chu’s commencent address…
Chu said he had one sentence, four words actually, for our graduates. “Do something that Matters.” Most definitely good advice, and something we often tell our undergraduates, but Chu then went on to make that one sentence meaningful to each and every person. I am posting his address here so you can read it in its entirety (our Secretary of Energy is a pretty funny guy and very down to earth – forgive the pun), but here are highlights from his address that I think (hope) will bring this post clarity.
Chu talked about climate change and finding sustainable energy solutions, but he did something more, he put it all into perspective. He talked about the image of earth taken from Voyager 1 and how it showed that (at this time) we really have only ourselves to rely on. No one is going to be able to save us if we don’t find solutions to the world’s energy problems.
Chu then read from Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot”:
“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 … 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 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 … Our posturing, our imagined self-importance … are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck … 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.”
Okay, so now I am getting to the point of this post, for those of you who are still reading :). I know that many of you are parents, and most of you will be parents (biological or otherwise) at some time or another, and many of you are teachers, in one way or another, and Chu’s next quote just brought it all into view for me:
“Treat the earth well: It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.” ~Native American proverb
Chu’s final words: Do something that matters. Help save the world.
Something to work towards.
Have a super duper Saturday! Good luck with the Boot Camp Challenge.