National Moon Day: Diverging Visions of the Future
The journey to the Moon is the greatest extension of the mythos of the conqueror and explorer. Lewis and Clark, the Wright brothers, Columbus, and now Buzz Aldrin. All represent the Western ideal of reaching far beyond the bounds of human achievement, but also, of the will to conquer.
Can we separate the will to reach new places with the drive to conquer them for our own?
It is no accident that the Moon landing happened at the time of the Cold War, a marked finish line of the race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The footprint and flag that still stand on the lunar surface represent not just our victory over the Soviets, but also our claim to new land and resources.
Can we continue to spend billions to reach new places when we neglect the responsibility to take care of our own?
On July 16, 1969, when Apollo 11’s Saturn V rocket took off from Cape Canaveral, destined to land the first white men on the Moon, the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) led a march of 200 people on Cape Canaveral, protesting the poverty facing black people in America.
“We are not protesting America’s achievements in outer space,” said SCLC leader Hosea Williams, “we are protesting our country’s inability to choose humane priorities.”
Can we create goals for our global community that are not based on profiteering and extraction of resources?
The Moon is now subject of race and conquest once again. While the Google Lunar X Prize has sat unclaimed since 2014, not a single company being able to complete the mission of sending a robotic spacecraft to the Moon, the project has undoubtedly completed its goal.
Among them, listed on the Lunar X project website, one stands clearly developed: to “give space entrepreneurs a legitimate platform to develop long-term business models around lunar transportation.”
Discussions on how to create legal framework that can bypass the pesky “1967 UN Outer Space Treaty,” so that the United States can “gets first dibs on whatever’s out there – maybe helium-3 or valuable rare earth elements,” have been underway since 2015, according to the Washington Post.
Human beings have been looking up to the Moon for millennia, using the changing face to tell time, depending on the lunar glow to light up the night, and wondering: what more is out there?
But how do we balance our sense of wonder and achievement with our responsibilities to our fellow human beings, and more, to our planet and untouched planets beyond? Will we spread our devastation and curse: the demise of climates, the hungry mining of natural resources, the death of progress over greed? Or will we choose to accept responsibility for the current global situation, and focus on regenerating life here before continuing to extend abroad?
As with all great questions, this one will have many answers. But the path you choose is mirrored by the choices you make, every day. There will be those of us who continue to strive forward at any cost; and those of us who continue to serve the global conscious at any loss.
Both are visions of a future.