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Monday, July 22, 2013

To The Moon, Alice!

I hated "The Honeymooners". Never understood what was funny about Jackie Gleason.

But "to the moon" is a good quote, because that's where we should be going, as a nation.

It's not that we don't have enough problems here, and it can be hard to justify spending money on spaceflight, especially to a place where we've already 'been there, done that'.

There are sound technical reasons for returning to the moon - but there's an overriding moral one, and that is that we are in danger of losing our optimism, and losing the dreams that made this country what it is today.

Optimism requires a look ahead, and a look up. It requires a call to courage, both moral and physical. It requires faith. And in the past, we had those qualities in some abundance.

A country without faith would not have survived the Great Depression intact. The recession of 2008-2011 was nothing in comparison. The Crash of 1929 and its aftermath put a quarter of the nation out of work, and required the government to change its focus from caretaker to activist.

A country without courage would not have gotten through the twin crises of Viet Nam and Watergate with as little permanent damage as we have had.

\But now - it seems we've lost the direction we had. We routinely elect, and then seek to tear apart, our elected officials. We look for bad things to think about entertainment giants - it's a far cry from fan clubs - remember those?

Will going to the moon - or anywhere in space - help? Not immediately. But when we can look up there, and realize that there are people on that small white orb, living and working, and that they came from down here, it'll change the way we think about the connections between places.

And the connections between events. Suddenly it won't matter as much, to many people, who in Hollywood divorced whom.

The optimism we can generate with a consistent, hard effort will have benefits here, too...because optimism fulfilled creates confidence, and it's confidence that solves the problems at home. It's the attitude, "Sure, we can fix that - after all, we're going to the Moon."

We owe it to ourselves.

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