Have you ever tried to rise above your offended feelings when someone you care about has said something deeply insensitive or offensive, but then—even if you remained silent—you failed to so rise? Have you ever wished you could rise above your visceral dislike and disdain of a truly stupid, offensive and divisive politician—someone you just know could have made the world a better place by not being born—and then failed to achieve your own worthy standards of love and respect for every last one of God’s children, no matter how they may offend the core values of our society, including your own?
I think the special ability to rise above one’s own unworthy reactions—or to not have unworthy reactions in the first place—must be Godlike. I am not Godlike, I am but a humble child of God, unable to raise myself to the level of God’s high standards.
In dozens of reports by near-death experiencers and other spiritually-oriented writings I repeatedly find these words in many formulations, all saying the same thing: “All is as it should be.”
Well…it seems to me, that may be the perspective of the Divine Creator who invented the universe and set loose evolution to make things happen in it. But in my own small view of human society—warlike and petty, as we trash nature all over our beautiful planet and permit endless human degradation year after year, generation after generation—“all” is decidedly not as it should be. To me, there’s much to not like.
I’ll probably never make it, this notion that I “should” rise up to the high perspective of the Creator of the big bang and the universe that emerged from it. But I can forgive my failings, and get on with trying to do good at whatever small level I can manage. And I can take inspiration wherever I find it.
This morning I found inspiration in a book I was reading*, and it’s so good I must share it with you.
Imagine you are somewhere out in space—standing on the moon, say—looking skyward at Earth, our planetary home. From this lunar perspective our beautiful blue-green Earth pretty much fills your view of the sky.
But now put on your Pegasus shoes, turn and zoom out past Mars and Jupiter. Keep on going, fly right on by Saturn, and then Uranus. When eventually you reach the orbit of Neptune slow down and pause a moment; turn around, look back the way you came. See if you can find our beloved Earth. Just as Neptune looks like a bright star when seen from Earth, you’ll have to search a bit for Earth, because it too will appear as just one slightly brighter star among many other stars when seen from Neptune.
Sail on now, out and out and far, far away, on out past Pluto and her sister dwarf planets, on past the Kuiper Belt. Go to the very farthest edge of the sun-and-planets assembly we call the solar system—way out yonder at the very, very edge of interstellar space, that great emptiness between one star and other stars. Come to a full stop. Turn around now, and see if you can find our birth planet, the one we call Earth.
You’ll need the telescope you thoughtfully took with you, because way out here at the furthermost edge of Old Sol’s territory, our Earth can no longer be seen with the naked eye. And even with your fairly strong telescope, when you finally find it, the beautiful planet where you were born, so full of life in a lifeless arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, will be seen—if you can find it at all—as a pale blue dot. Remember now Carl Sagan, that worthy representative of humankind, and his perspective of a pale blue dot.
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Carl Sagan succumbed to cancer at age 62 on December 20, 1996. Perhaps the Twentieth Century’s most famous scientist since Einstein, Sagan was memorialized in numerous venues, the primary one being New York City’s massive Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In one section of the memorial service Sagan’s recorded voice was heard, reading from his book Pale Blue Dot. The book’s title referred to a photo Sagan had persuaded NASA to take from the spacecraft Voyager 1 in 1990 when, looking back toward Earth, it was 3.7 billion miles out from the sun—beyond and sailing forever away from the solar system where it had launched from a moderately small planet called Earth. As Sagan’s words were heard in the packed cathedral, it is doubtful that any human spirit attending that day failed to rise up, up—becoming thereby a bit more Godlike:
“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.”
As you gaze upon that pale blue dot maybe, just maybe, your distant new perspective might approach that of God. And perhaps the thought will cross your mind, fleetingly: All is as it should be. Then perhaps you will understand what God understands, and you will love all of your fellows. Every one of them.
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*Graff, Garrett M., UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Here—and Out There; Avid Reader Press (Simon & Schuster), 2023.