Taken by William Anders on December the 24th 1968, this image was described by Galen Rowell, the famous 20th century nature photographer, as “one of the most influential images ever taken.” But why should this photo be so influential? Arguably, many people might say that it shows the totality of humanity as viewed by another human for the first time. Three humans behind the camera, three and a half billion being photographed and nothing beyond.
However, I ask rhetorically, why is that important?
I have pondered that question since I first saw the photograph and it hung on my bedroom wall for several years while I was a teenager. I do not believe that I fully appreciated the photograph back in those days, but I believe I see it in a different perspective now.
When one becomes frustrated, or annoyed, or if someone is irritated by the actions of another, when a politician, president, monarch or person in power is about to take action, perhaps this image may come to mind. And when it does, perhaps the image may cause a person to hesitate for a second, or perhaps two, or even maybe 10 seconds. In that pause something important is happening, and that is the opportunity for a little wisdom to step in. You see, before someone decides to take action against someone else then maybe this image haunt them and cause them to reflect for a moment. They may then remember that all of our failures, low points, and conflicts, and all of our successes, high points and global collaborations have all occurred on this tiny spaceship we call Earth. And so as a person of influence is about to decide on their course of action, maybe they will remember where they are and for a moment allow a little wisdom to enter their thoughts before they make a decision. If that were to happen seven or eight billion times around the Earth then perhaps there might be some hope for the longevity of life on Earth.