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Climbing on My Soapbox – What Happened to Us?



Posted by Steve

I’ve been watching the new Discovery special WHEN WE LEFT EARTH.  The series is an amazing six hour documentary chronicling the history of The United States’ space program.  The first two episodes have aired with the final episode airing on Sunday, June 22.   The first two episodes tell the story of NASA from putting the first American in space right up through the moon missions and even skylab.

As I watch men risk their very lives in the name of exploration, I can’t help but think, this is the pinnacle of geekdom.  How many of us have spent days on end travelling through space on the Millenium Falcon, the USS Palomino, the Battlestar Galactica, or God forbid…The USS ENTERPRISE?  How many of us have watched in awe as a shuttle is launched?  How many of us have imagined just what it must be like to break these earthly bonds and soar among the stars?  Most, if not all of us have dreamed at one point or another of being an astronaut, or a scientist, or both.  The  very idea of space ignites a flame in our very psyche.

The thing that strikes me most about the earlier days of the space program however, is just how much intuition, initiative, imagination, and plain old hard work went into making the impossible possible.  Which leads me to my question…WHAT HAPPENED TO US?!?!

By “us” I mean all of us, people.  Apparently, there was a time when the word “can’t” didn’t exist in our lexicon.  Apparently, there was a time when (as R. Kelly once sang) if we could dream it, we could do it.

Now, we wait for someone else.  We look to a government we don’t trust to bail us out of everything from a rising oil prices to a runny nose.  Now, we sit and complain about all that is wrong and never offer any solutions.  We look at all that is wrong and never attempt to make it right, and it happens on every level of lives from our geekdom to the real issues.

What happened to imagination?  What happened to motivation?  What happened to the spirit of doing the impossible?

I honestly don’t know.  I know that (as the old saying goes) if we can land a man on the moon we should be able to….insert acceptable solution to random problem here.  I guess watching what people went through and still go through to expand the bounds of our imagination, I was a little sad that there are so few people thinking beyond themselves and the problems of the here and now.

Quite frankly, if any group of people should be making a difference, it’s geeks.  So, let me use this moment on my soapbox to encourage you to put down your Acts of Vengeance Special Edition Trade Paperback, put off watching the 6 hour extended cut of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, and (gasp) disconnect from the internet for a little bit to go do something for someone else, or even something to change your life for the better.

The next sound you here will be me crashing through my soapbox due to a rather high number that represents my weight.