“We are a way for the universe to understand itself.” These are the words of the late Carl Sagan. This is such a profound statement because of the truth and peace it offers. It is in our basic mentalities to crave importance. We all want to be special in some way, on both a grand scale and on an individual basis. The top world religions claim that human beings are chosen by God Himself, and even created in the image of this divine being. They go so far as to say they are so special that even death is not an obstacle, as they will go on living for all of eternity after their body decomposes. Upon contemplation, this is both very wrong and quite correct. We are important in the cosmos, but we are also humbled in the same aspect. We are physically, mentally, and naturally a part of the universe, and so is everything else.
To be humbled in our human existence, we need only understand existence on a grand scale. Space goes out in all directions. Beyond the farthest star, there exists dark matter and an infinite amount of mysteries that we have yet to fathom. To fully comprehend infinity is almost impossible for us, as we are impermanent creatures. Time also goes out in all directions. There has always been time and always will be, regardless of who or what or if anyone perceives it, because time need not be measured in order to pass. Compared to the infinity of time and space, the existence of our beloved Earth is but a particle of water evaporated by the afternoon sun. It is fleeting, beautiful, and barely noticeable. We don’t know what existed before the universe exploded into being, and we can comprehend nothingness no better than infinity. We live in the macrocosm of the universe just as the tiny single celled organisms dwell within us. One may ask, how can we say we are of any importance, when our existence is as fleeting and tiny as the blink of an eye?
Everything that can be physically perceived through the senses is made up of the same basic components. We are the universe in a very literal sense, only when I say we, I mean all that exists. In the Bible, God speaks to Moses. When Moses asks, “Who are you?” God replies with, “I am.” To exist is to be and to be is to exist in all its glory. It is humbling as well, because we cannot brag or boast to anyone or anything. If it exists, it is on a level playing field with us and could very well boast the same. We are equal in worth with everything that surrounds us because it too is made of stardust and lives amongst the same terms and conditions and you and I.
Our unification with the cosmos goes beyond our microscopic component and reaches into our very nature. We deny this in our futile attempt to be more special and rise above all that is around us. We use of our culture to secure this denial. Our global culture teaches us what is morally wrong and right. It is wrong for us to harm one another; wrong to take what we devise is owned by another, and wrong to destroy something that is not owned by ourselves. Our reasons behind these morals vary, but to generalize, we say that humans are too civilized for such activity. However, it is not wrong for a wolf to attack another wolf, or a squirrel to steal an acorn from another squirrel, or a beaver to destroy multiple trees in order to build its dam. We do not judge or condemn other creatures in the animal kingdom because we consider these things a part of the natural order. We even stand in awe at the raw power and beauty displayed in the aggression of some animals. However, in the context of our civilized culture, nature is chaotic.
It is in the nature of the cosmos to create and destroy constantly. Is this not in our nature as well? The universe is complex and simple, beautiful and terrible, dark and brilliant. In these ways, we are created in the image of the universe. Sentient beings are complex in biology, yet simple in observation; we are beautiful because of our cosmic parentage and terrible in our violence, disregard, and destruction. We are dark and brilliant in our colors, innovations, thoughts, and adaptations. We are the universe in all its ways and in this we are important- because we are life.
The people that strive to be special in the universe, the ones that strive to find their place in this big world, need look no further than the grass growing from the earth, or the clouds shifting in the sky. We are the Cosmos physically, mentally, and naturally. We, all of us, all that is, are truly united, and truly beautiful.