This just doesn’t seem right. A government actually has a long term plan for something and is sticking with it? Whoa…I can’t quite wrap my brain around it.
My parents were over the other night and we watched The NASA Missions: When We Left Earth on Netflix. We finished the segment on the Apollo landings. The narrator summed up the episode and talked about the will, desire and long term planning that it took to accomplish landing Americans on the moon. My father then asked, “What happened to us?”
That is a very fair question. What has happened to us? As a nation we no longer lack the will to do the great things. Is it lost forever? I don’t know and in some ways it makes me nervous to even consider that question. I could sit here and rail against the conservative anti-science agenda, but in truth that is unfair to the conservatives. It’s not like the liberals are placing all that many eggs in our future basket either. As everyone is so very fond of pointing out we live in an age of partisan politics where destroying the other side is the only goal (and its not like that’s even a long term strategy). As a nation, our leaders would rather knife fight in ditch full of shit than actually lead, and the rest of us shake our heads in disgust and dream of being the 1%.
When I say that we dream of being the 1% I am not being in anyway derogatory. I think that only through the dream of being better than we are, can we actually improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We want to be better, either through greater wealth, or through creating a new cancer drug, or going to disadvantaged countries to help their poor. In any of those cases or thousands of other examples we are trying to be more than we are right now. That is what drives this country, this world, forward.
Little (if any) of that is evident in our leaders today (in either party). What if an asteroid was spotted that will impact the Earth and kill us in 3 years? Would we finally, after decades of partisan politics, be able to join together behind a leader to get the job done? Would we bicker and back stab until we all die, or some other country takes the lead? Or do we have a JFK to say:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
I would like to believe that we would pull together, that we would do the hard thing. My question is why would it take that magnitude of an event to bring us together? Why can’t we pull together now to accomplish something great like going to Mars, finding a cure for cancer, kicking our oil addiction, creating the best education system in the world, or whatever else we choose? Where is our national will?
I hope we find it. I hope that the question my father asked, “What happened to us?” is one that can no longer be asked in the future. I am afraid though…that it will be. I am afraid we will be damned by future historians for our laziness, our apathy towards our own futures.
What has happened to us?
I hope that in the years to come if that question is still asked then it is with a positive connotation…”Wow, look at the U.S., what happened to make them do so much?”