Humility of Purpose

All the coverage of the fortieth anniversary of the the moon landing renewed debates about the efficacy of the space program and our budget priorities. Implicit in that discussion are the short term vs. long range goals (i.e., feed people now or fund space exploration) and strategic interests (Do we go to exploit or conquer, or to explore and assimilate?)

We can feed and house people and go to Mars very soon if we change our ways of thinking, and I would argue all are equally important. Our future is in space, not on this fragile plant, but we won't be successful there with a conqueror's mentality. "We want adventurers not conquerors" should read the recruiting poster.

I liked what Buzz Aldrin said at the White House yesterday: (I'm paraphasing) "If there's no life on Mars before we get there, there damn sure will be when we're there, what with the urine bags." Knowing what's inevitable in our effect on others, and what is not, is half the battle. (And don't you love his plainspokenness?)

And count on it, there's some life form or principle bigger and badder than us out there. Whether it is extraterrestrial physics or life that will kick our butt, is immaterial. We should go with humility of purpose and boldness of vision, an unbeatable combination.

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