Remember the old Star Trek intro? It went something like, “To boldly go where no one has gone before.”
It was just a hook for a TV show, but in the end, the line became a little bit more than famous. It became an expression for a lot of people’s deeper aspirations. As such, it was treated in every which way from as a joke to the slogan for a way of life.
I’ve been thinking of that line this election cycle.
This election cycle, like all election cycles, is loaded down with candidates whose most inspiring vision for me is never anything greater than to once again further cut my taxes, and then to cut my government services when I’m not looking.
And that’s their most inspiring vision for me. The one I might, in a million years, work up one single throaty “hooray” for.
Their other visions include fighting endless wars, creating a third world gap between rich and poor in this country, and simply ignoring or denying most real problems such as environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation, health care, and global climate change.
Such boldness! Such dreams! Such visions!
I don’t know about anyone else, but frankly, I myself am not inspired to get out of bed in the morning even with a full bladder by such insipid and pathetic visions for me.
Maybe if I were a very old man in whom the fires had largely died and who no longer needed any real goals or dreams — maybe then I could at least now and then get a lucky piss hard-on in the early dew morning for the visions of today’s candidates and would-be leaders.
But I genuinely doubt even then I’d be inspired — really inspired — by what strangely seems more than sufficient to inspire all the many political wimps who want be my bosses. After reading their campaign literature, after studying their visions for me, I just bet everyone of them is the sort of robust leader who is fully capable of getting falling-down drunk on table ketchup.
Do I sound a wee bit contemptuous? If so, I think there’s good reason for it. I mean, just take a look — take a long, quiet, and sober look — at all that is petty, wrong, base, “monotonous, stupid, and cruel”, about humans, our history and our nature. Isn’t there enough there to make you deeply wonder what, if anything, redeems us?
For I think to be awake in this world, to know one’s place in it, means in part to be fully and perhaps coldly aware that one belongs to a species that is just as stupid, ugly, and horrible as we are also the most extraordinary and wondrous of all life.
So, is the very best that our species can aspire to a tax cut? Is our most powerful and compelling dream a vision of reducing government services? To say nothing of the rest of it — of fighting endless wars, etc.?
I think not. I think if that’s the best we can do, then there cannot be much upside to our species, and we are at best a tragedy, but, more likely, we are too pathetic to even be tragic. Moreover, let me suggest that anyone who is genuinely or deeply inspired by such mere things as further cutting taxes and reducing government services is simply an excitable wus.
“To boldly go where no one has gone before”, might be among the world’s corniest TV lines. I really don’t know about that. But I know the idea behind those words has guts and vision. Why, just chanting that line a few times is probably enough to cause deep intestinal panic in my town’s ketchup addicted mayor.
At any rate, now that I’ve genteelly mentioned some of the polite and pleasant thoughts running through my brain this campaign season, please let me point you to an extraordinary issue of The Journal of Cosmology.
Colonizing Mars: The Human Mission to the Red Planet is the title of the October-November issue. The peer reviewed issue contains over 50 online articles, written by more than 70 scientists and former astronauts, on how Mars can be colonized by us. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the problem.
Basically, The Journal proposes the colonization of Mars be paid for by private companies, and that the colonization get under way very soon.
Now, I think if you can get private companies to raise the needed capital, which is estimated to be 145 billion dollars, then you should do it. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this yet, but my belief that our government has the necessary leadership to adequately water the flowerbeds of Washington, D.C. during a rain storm, let alone the leadership to colonize Mars, has been under some strain of late. Therefore, I’m open to the suggestion that private enterprise is the way to go.
From an email sent to David Dobbs of Wired Magazine, here’s how the folks at The Journal put that cost of 145 billion dollars in context:
The Conquest of Mars vs the Iraq War (“The contrasts are stark: $145 billion to conquer an entire planet, vs a trillion dollars to fight a war which has accomplished nothing except to sew destruction, kill and maim a lot of innocent people, and enrich the few.”)
That seems to me pretty persuasive. Frankly, I have no clue whether the colonization of Mars is really feasible, but I believe that, if it really is, then we should do it. And as soon as possible. Because no matter how often we are led by insipid fools and by even worse than insipid fools, we still as humans have a side to us that aspires “to boldly go”, and we must to be authentic allow that side of us to be expressed.
There are many other reasons to colonize Mars. That’s just one of them. If our government won’t do it, then maybe our businesses and other institutions will. But whatever the means, it’s the human thing to do.