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Reform Magazine | May 23, 2024

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Transforming our communities: The pale blue dot - Reform Magazine

Transforming our communities: The pale blue dot

Simon Hawking looks at what it takes to change our communities

One of my earliest memories is playing with my toy spaceships in the living room at our family home. It was a bright Saturday morning though it was early and the curtains were still closed except for a crack where they weren’t fully drawn.

A beam of light shone through that crack, creating a line of sunshine down the centre of the room. As I sat on my knees, flying my spaceship around, I noticed the tiny specks of dust that hung in that beam of light. I had never noticed such a thing before and I marvelled as the specks danced lazily in the sunshine.

A few years ago, I saw an image on the internet which reminded me of that moment in my childhood. It was called the Pale Blue Dot. It was a photograph taken in February 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from an incredible 3.7bn miles away as the probe was leaving the solar system. At the request of astronomer and author Carl Sagan, Nasa had sent a command to Voyager to turn its camera around and take one final picture of Earth (pictured inset).

The picture showed what looked like a solitary speck of dust hanging in a beam of light. In Sagan’s book of the same name, he wrote:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again 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. 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...

Simon Hawking is the Chief Executive for Acts Trust. For more information, visit In December’s Reform, Simon unpacks the 5Ds in more detail


This is an extract from an article published in the November 2022 edition of Reform

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