Today, a man died. He was a war veteran and a test pilot who through skill, bravery, intelligence, hard work, and probably a little luck became the first human to set foot on a heavenly body. This made him a symbol of what man can achieve.
On the other side of that, some of the the reasons used to sell a mission to the moon were framed in more earthly terms. We had to get to the moon first and beat the Russians. So much for the family of man.
Only this morning, before I heard the news, I was walking around my neighborhood and looking at all the flags and monuments my neighbors had put up to their sports teams, mostly Iowa Hawkeyes and Green Bay Packers, because Iowa doesn’t have it’s own sports team and everybody loves the underdog. Later this morning, I saw my new nephew, and my sister-in-law had dressed him in an Iowa Hawkeye onesie.
Am I alone in finding it odd that we don’t have monuments to NASA on our lawn, or we don’t go around wearing shirts with ARMSTRONG written across the back?
Okay, I know people like their sports teams, but if we put what we spend on sport merchandising into space flight, I’d be writing this from a martian cafe with Arnold Swarchenegger in a dress. I’m not sure who would wear the dress, me or Arnold, but there would be a dress for some reason–that’s a Total Recall reference by the way, since it’s a little out of date.
I’m a firm believer that staying on this planet, not spreading out into the solar system, the galaxy, the Universe, is a death sentence for the whole race. Eventually, the shoe will drop, along with a huge asteroid. Or maybe something will get screwed up, and we’ll turn into morlocks or something. This planet can take a lot of damage, our currently hospitable environment cannot.
On the other hand, should we be spreading ourselves into the universe? We have an awful lot of stuff down here that needs fixing, places like Haiti and Florida. Maybe everything has its time, and when ours is up, we should fade away gracefully. One thing seems quite clear to me though. If we do make it beyond this little ball of mud, it will be because we stopped worrying about our team winning and started realizing we’re all on the same team.