Aug
02
2013

Carl Sagan – Who Speaks for Earth

Excerpted from: “Cosmos” Episode 13 “Who Speaks for Earth”

“The global balance of terror, pioneered by the United States and the Soviet Union, holds hostage all the citizens of the earth. Each side persistently probes the limits of the other’s tolerance, like; the Cuban missile crisis, the testing of anti-satellite weapons, the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars. The hostile military establishments are locked in some ghastly mutual embrace, each needs the other.

But the balance of terror is a delicate balance, with very little margin for miscalculation. And the world impoverishes itself by spending a trillion dollars a year on preparations for war, and by employing perhaps half the scientists and high technologists on the planet in military endeavors.

How would we explain all this to a dispassionate extraterrestrial observer? What account would we give of our stewardship of the planet earth? We have heard the rationales offered by the superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations, but who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for earth?

From an extraterrestrial perspective, our global civilization is clearly on the edge of failure in the most important task it faces; preserving the lives and well-being of its citizens, and the future habitability of the planet.
But if we are willing to live with the growing likelihood of nuclear war, shouldn’t we also be willing to explore, vigorously, every possible means to prevent nuclear war? Shouldn’t we consider, in every nation, major changes in the traditional ways of doing things, a fundamental restructuring of economic, political, social and religious institutions?
We have reached a point where there can be no more special interests or special cases, nuclear arms threaten every person on the earth.

Fundamental changes in society are sometimes labeled ‘impractical’ or ‘contrary to human nature’, as if nuclear war were practical, or as if there were only one human nature. But fundamental changes can clearly be made, we’re surrounded by them. In the last two centuries, abject slavery, which was with us for thousands of years, has almost entirely been eliminated in a stirring world wide revolution. Women, systematically mistreated for millennia, are gradually gaining the political and economic power traditionally denied to them. And some wars of aggression have recently been stopped or curtailed because of a revulsion felt by the people in the aggressor nations. The old appeals to racial, sexual, and religious chauvinism, and to rabid nationalist fervor are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism, and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet.”

Carl Sagan

 

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