If I thought before that I was an insignificant speck of dust in the whole of the Universe, this conclusion is even more dramatic after having recently watched Neil Degrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. The Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy, our Galactic Neighborhood, the entire Universe are all so much larger, so much more fantastic, than we can even imagine. Using special effects, Tyson tries to give us an idea of what’s really “out there,” but he fails miserably. No one… no special effects, no myths or analogies… even come close to the truth.

People who come out here to visit are amazed at the nighttime sky. Living in cities, most of them have never seen it like this. Though spectacular as it appears, it is still a feeble representation of what’s really out there, unseen. I don’t take it for granted, it’s a part of my everyday life. Living here, I accept the inescapable fact that I am a speck.

I think for many people there is a huge fear of being small. They mistakenly feel that change is impossible unless you can amass great numbers for your cause. But if you stick to your guns over the long haul, there is an amazing amount that a single person can accomplish.

I’m talking about real change, not something fake or illusory. Yet some critics contend that pop-culture has become more narcissistic in recent decades… all about “Me.”

The “will-to-fame” is creating a new era of public narcissism in online culture for an entire generation. I am astonished by the number of “selfie” images posted on my Facebook timeline, and by the alarming number of people who analyze their own names for “deep” meaning. I’ve heard that some celebrities hire “fake paparazzi” to appear more popular than they are. I am aware of the rising frequency with which reality programs populate television schedules. In everyday conversation, I’m amazed by the frequency with which people keep steering conversations away from others and toward themselves, as if they’re competing for attention.

It seems to me that there is a certain nobility in being a speck of dust, or at least in discovering what a speck of dust can accomplish. After all, according to Tyson, the humble microbe was the basis of all life on Earth. This in itself is pretty awesome.


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