March 26, 2011 1 Comment
As much as I love movies like The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, I find them just as frustrating, because they only seem to underline how far we’ve come from that sense of imagination-grabbing discovery that gripped so much of the world during the Space Race. It almost feels like the days of breath-taking leaps forward are done, replaced by barely perceived incremental advances, and usually to some gadget that lets you play Angry Birds in some new, previously un-thought-of location. Not to say that I’m unappreciative of how gee-whiz-cool things like iPads and smart phones are, but when we’re looking at the end of manned space flight in this country for who knows how long, well, the race from 4G to 5G doesn’t hold the same thrill as watching the race for the moon.
It just feels like we don’t dream those big, crazy, awe-inspiring dreams anymore. Everything is considered, weighed, and measured, and if it looks like we’ve got better than a 99% chance of not screwing up, then maybe will think about giving it a try. Someday. Once we give it another once over, just to be sure. And assuming there’s not a big stink over how much it costs. Or which political party came up with it.
Even our supposedly audacious, hopeful president seems so cautious, so reserved, so afraid to rock the boat, when it was rocking that boat that got him elected in the first place. Now a lot of that is due in no small part to the forces who have dogged every last move he’s made, but hell man, if they’re going to pitch at your head every time up to the plate no matter what you do, you might as well swing for the fences. Inspire us. Make us wonder “Why not?” Instead of “Why didn’t we?”
I don’t know, maybe the folks who lived through the 1960s didn’t see it as this momentous time until they had a few years’ worth of perspective. Between Vietnam and all the racial tension, things probably looked as bleak and stagnant to them as things seem to me now. But at least they could look up to the stars and watch heroes on columns of fire. While we seem to keep our eyes stuck to the ground, hoping to get by without bothering anybody. And getting past that damn 12-4 level on Angry Birds.