Humankind's journey through existence is one fraught with so many obstacles that seem only to pile up, almost ceaselessly, until there seems nowhere really left to turn. However, one frontier, as fantastic and unfathomable as it may be, waits -for us- to be discovered.
On July 20, 1969, almost 7 years after humanity made it to space, Neil Armstrong stomped the first footprints to have ever grace the moon. Maybe his footsteps were not as expansive as the 2,500 km long crater found on the far side of the moon, but they acted as a symbol for the capacity of human achievement.
Humans, and the pre-human equivalents, have inhabited the earth for as long as any of us can remember and we have learned to adapt and grow with our surroundings. With our ingenuity and ever-growing minds, we have achieved crafting mountains out of molehills. There is no doubt in my mind that we have conquered this earth, reigning in at the very top as the dominant species, but at what cost, and to what ends? What can we do next, if the next obstacle is too high to hurdle?
Can we pull any wisdom out of the phrase, “Do not bite the hand that feeds you,” as we continue to bore holes into the earth to extract materials that won’t be available again for millions of years? This isn’t to say that our society could do without, but it is healthy to recognize our faults as a growing species, literally.
NASA’s budget for 2018 fiscal year comes in at $19.1 billion, and in an outline describing how Congress wants that money spent, “Increased cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses on the nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research.”
The corporate figurehead, Elon Musk, the genius behind Tesla and Spacex, is hard at work at not just slowing down the rate at which we spend valuable earth resources, but is furthering humanity’s capacity to physically explore the universe beyond our moon. He’s playing the long-term game, leaving a legacy for himself and hopefully a chance for humanity to survive what’s headed for us next. We need to recognize the importance in what he’s doing and start thinking ahead.
Perhaps destruction isn’t just around the corner, but time, in terms of a human life, is less than a blink of the eye to the universe. Doing what we can now, with what we have, while we have it, is absolutely imperative and is what we should be doing anyways.
In the words of Carl Sagan, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”