I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel last night called “When We Left Earth.” It was quite good, and as these sorts of shows often do, it got me thinking.
When I was a kid, I was always facinated by space. I built model spaceships, I pretended that my house (and even my tree fort) were spaceships, and I imagined fanciful worlds in space and almost all of my toys & whatnot were connected with space in one way or another. I used a small telescope to stare at the stars, at the planets, and at the moon. I gobbled up books of all types on space. And I dreamed.
I still get the tingles watching and listening to the recordings of space missions – especially the lunar missions. I still feel wonder when I see pictures from our probes we’ve sent to Mars and Jupiter and Saturn and the other planets – the same wonder today that I felt the very first time I saw those pictures.
Those remarkable feats – to go where no one has gone before. They are important not just for the science they returned, but for the imagination they inspired in all of us. It was Richard Nixon who perhaps put it best:
“For one priceless moment, in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one.”
Given how deeply divided we seem to be these days, I can think of no one single thing that has the potential to bring us all together in such a beneficial – and peaceful – way.
I truly hope to see that sort of mentality as we had during the lunar mission era come back again within my lifetime, and to see the people of this Earth come together as they did back then. And I also hope that the spirit of exploration, and of peace, that such an endeavor can inspire stay with us all for a very, very long time.