Landing on the Moon and Resting on our Laurels

I always get nostalgic in the summertime. With the anniversary of the 1st moon landing, I am pulled back to my formative years. Beyond the general pride and excitement felt by the American citizenry, I remember coming to understand something more, when watching this (and ALL of the Apollo missions) from my classroom in a DOD school (my father was in the USAF). America had a place in the world…as a leader in looking beyond what was known into what was possible. I believed in that vision of a better world, as well as a better America. I still do. In 1969, we certainly were not without our political messes, (McCarthyism, Vietnam…), but our democratic ideals were intact as we, the people, protested and marched to change the way things were done. Those popular ideals were entwined in the same popular media that reflected our ventures into space. Star Trek, the original airing from 1966-1969, had creators (and characters) who were altruistic in their desire to explore new ways of doing things and to promote peace among cultures. In 1969, we were world leaders beyond our military strength. The most disturbing part of America’s modern notion of patriotism is the tendency to focus our vision inward. The concepts of leadership and championship have morphed from their foundations in idealism (where in that position, we would look to the interests of those whom we lead or champion) to one more solidly based in the framework of competition. We’re out to win the prize. I’m not so naive that I don’t recognize the race for space–the cold war in general–as an early generation of this self-centered phenomenon…but I do believe we were, as a people, more innocent of our government’s machinations back then. Now days though, we “the people” often express ideals that are jaded by a belief that we are “better” than others. What we do is too often couched in “what’s in it for me/us.” We are wholly convinced that we are the best, and we rest on the laurels of our past as we demand our “due” and ignore our responsibilities to those less blessed.

While your thinking about it…check out We Choose the Moon.


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