I grew up with a sense of hope.
My Dad worked at NASA, at the Johnson Space Center, during Apollo and Skylab.
I still have boxes of “real NASA pictures”(!) and paraphernalia that they were ,presumably, gonna toss.
Amazing pictures, of Neil Armstrong looking out the window of the LEM on Apollo 11;
Lots of Lunar rocks and craters; and (my favorites) pictures of the Earth from the Moon.
This led to a lifelong interest in Science…and Science Fiction…but, more importantly, to a certain “Onward!” outlook, a hopefulness, regarding the Potential of Mankind.
The Universe was out there, waiting to be explored.
Our little planet still had myriad mysteries to be rooted around in.
And the concurrent SciFi led to a Roddenberrian worldview that fit perfectly with what I was gleaning from Jefferson, Da Vinci and Einstein (my other 3 great heroes):
That Man was perfectible.
That Mankind is capable of overcoming his faults and superstitions…
Of becoming nearer to Gods.
This Optimism, the very center of the Enlightenment, has taken quite a beating in the intervening years. As I gained political awareness, I ,more and more, saw the Lies.
The Willful Blindness of my fellow Americans.
The growing Fear of the new, the different, the open.
More and more, the folks around me built their Walls and entrenched themselves behind them.
Folks stopped looking up!
Stopped reaching Further.
This period had it’s beginnings with Reagan, and the Conservative Revolution.
I didn’t know this, then….but as my awareness of the World grew, I did know that something was wrong with us.
At the same time that we were hearing about “Morning in America” and all it’s attendant faux shiny-talk, we were giving into the Fear.
Fearmongering is nothing new (pope Innocent?)…but Reagan and his movement made an Art of it.
Now, after 29 years of this, after all the suburban castle-building, the home-entertainment-center frenzy, the ever increasing isolation ,homogenization, and paranoia about all manner of “The Other”… and 9-11 as a gruesome cherry-on-top….
Where is the country that separated from the tired old traditions of 5000 years?
Where is the Nation that kept on expanding the Franchise…even in the face of violence from within?
Where is the country that went to the Moon?!
I still hold Hope, deep inside, that Mankind can rise above the stupidity, ignorance and violence that seems to be our inheritance.
That we are not just Fire Monkeys, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, until we finally destroy Everything in a paroxysm of radioactive light.
That, somehow, the Fear can be cathartic. That we can one day set it aside and grow up as a Species.
I owe that Hope to my sons, and whatever progeny they manage.
Without just a little smidgen of Hope, the Fear-sellers will have won.
And then there can be no hope.
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