Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

April 25, 2012

We the People: What to tell your graduate

CROSSVILLE — If you often wonder what this world is coming to, a peephole to the future is nearer than you may realize. Pick a clear night before you put your computer to sleep and check the NASA Human Space Flight Schedule on the Internet. You’ll find exact dates and times when the International Space Station passes through our part of the night sky.

If you have genuine concerns about how your family will fare among the coming generations, look upward and locate the space station and be awed as it crosses the sky — a celestial sojourner on an intrepid mission. The space station is among the beginning steps toward other worlds. If your immediate descendants are not acquiring skills for a world packed with new ideas, then they may be among those who will find the most the promising doors of the future closed to them.

The space laboratory is being built by men and women of great courage and trained minds. It is assembled from parts that are boosted there by astonishing chemical power. It orbits in a transition zone, impelled by its own momentum to travel fast enough to break even with gravity and not fall back to earth. It is not going beyond its present path, but the fact that it is there at all is magical to most inhabitants of earth. We must find ways to go farther, and we shall, with new technology. Our children—and theirs—will find new ways to explore. Jobs will spin off all that.

There are opportunities so magical than we can’t imagine them, and stunning sights in places that most humans think are impossible to reach. Reactionaries will do what they can to stop anyone from going there. But this is no time to turn back to the past. We cannot leave human progress in the hand of whatever god we follow or in the hands of those who hate government.

Will our descendants be leashed to earthbound corporations and politicians who see no way to pay for the trip ahead? Will our leaders only coast in orbit and wait for the old days to return? Most of the major inventions in the last two centuries came from the U.S. We were a beacon for discovery, construction, freedom and compassion. But our leaders are now encrusted with fleas and lichens and cannot move without lucre from the corporations holding the moneybags. We are failing our innovators because we value quick and easy money more than we respect sound and hard-earned knowledge. We must replace political hacks with statesmen and stateswomen.

If we can’t learn to say, “Yes we can! How do we begin?” then we may be in the terminal orbit for our country. Too many leaders sit with their hands folded across fat bellies and grumble and wonder what the stock market will do tomorrow. World religions pretend to be the moral forces of the universe but don’t agree on much except their universal need to get rid of each other. We the People are better than our backward leaders. War is obsolete. Outrage is useless. It’s time to take bold steps of progress instead of cringing in fear before challenges our own ancestors would have overcome long ago. Remember Columbus? He didn’t tell Queen Isabella that the limit of the known world was too far and the risks were too great. He cast off the mooring lines and hoisted sail, not knowing for certain if he might sail off the edge, but he sailed, game on!

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