A simple thought

My apologies for not having a new post for the last couple days.

Yesterday was my wife’s XXth anniversary of her 29th birthday, so that took priority over updating this site, as much as I might have wanted to.

Today, though, I woke to the news that this is the 44th anniversary of the moon landing.

Those of you who grew up in an age of space flight, where putting a man on the moon was old news, probably can’t comprehend just how momentous that moment was.

To this day, I clearly remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

My father’s Knights of Columbus group had a picnic, scheduled long in advance, at the local park; a few members brought along their portable black & white TVs so they wouldn’t miss it. And at the appointed hour, everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered around their TVs to watch.

And by everyone, I mean the entire world.

America had done the impossible.

Again.

As teenagers and men and women in their 20s, my parent’s generation, possibly your grandparents or even great grandparents, defeated the greatest war machine the world has ever known. And quite literally, saved the world in the process.

They split the atom. They landed on the moon, using 1960s technology. They fought, and won, the battle for civil rights. They built the massive Interstate highway system that connects our cities and makes our much-vaunted mobility a reality.

They did the impossible. Not once, but over and over again.

A generation that believed it could achieve anything, did. Today’s America believes it can’t, and doesn’t.

That’s not to say they got everything right.

We’re still fighting the battle for equal rights for all Americans. And dealing with the nuclear legacy they left behind, and the needless deaths on our streets.

But it was a generation that thought big, and found solutions when challenges to those ideas inevitably arose. And refused to let a single roadblock, or a thousand, derail them from reaching their destination as a nation.

Unlike ours.

It’s long past time to end the era of small thinking and lowered expectations, and once again envision America as it can and should be, with limitless horizons and compassion for all.

We have proven over and again that we can accomplish anything we truly commit to, and solve any problem if we set our minds and hearts to the task.

So lets do it. Again.

Now.

13 comments

  1. roberthurst says:

    It was a generation with a virtually unlimited supply of cheap oil.

  2. passerby says:

    you’re showing your age.

  3. sevencyclist says:

    Every time I see Armstrong (Neil) and get goose bumps. I am amazed at how they did all those successful launches, especially sitting on top of those massive 3 stage rockets. That is just truly awesome human engineering feat.

    These missions inspired me, and some of my other friends to get into the technical field and into engineering. Of course, growing up in Pasadena, close to Cal Tech, and JPL, you couldn’t help but be inspired by the space program!

  4. woodenmonkey says:

    I loved this post. So much that I read it aloud to my husband. He loved it (even though he is a puppy and wasn’t born 44 years ago). And I loved it all over, and even more. Thank you for writing this!

  5. Michael M says:

    I’m one of the young ones, not even 30. My first job out if college was working at JPL. I like what you wrote about a generation that thought big and found solutions. My generation thinks small, they think “me”. How do you teach my generation to think big again? We want to but we don’t.

    • bikinginla says:

      When John Kennedy set a goal of landing a man on the moon in 10 years, it was an impossible goal; the technology didn’t yet exist to achieve it. But in setting the goal, he established the need to solve those problems and develop the technology to make it possible.

      The key is to envision, not what you think is possible, but what you would do if you could do anything. Then make it possible. Learn to view obstacles as opportunities, and demand solutions instead of problems. Saying something can’t be done is the easy way out; it’s a lot harder — but ultimately more rewarding — to find a way to do it.

      It’s hard to motivate a generation. But if you manage to motivate yourself, you’re likely to find it becomes infectious.

      And don’t forget that even the generation that landed on the moon had people who said it couldn’t be done or wasn’t worth the effort and expense. The reason they succeeded was that they acknowledged the difficulty, and did it anyway.

      Of course, it didn’t hurt that they were terrified that the Soviets would get there first.

  6. Jim Lyle says:

    Math and science were key. When Sputnik went into orbit, the US educational system was way behind the curve in educating scientists and engineers. What resulted from that launch, was a race to educational excellence, along with the race to the moon. Today, we have a race to the bottom, where “self-esteem” and “fun” are valued more than “results’ and “hard work.” High school graduates can’t read or write, much less make change. We have failed the current generation. Maybe it’s not too late for the next one.

  7. mahythesis says:

    I love the sense of vision, except for the self-delusion part about not having any limits. If anything, that’s the common theme between generations, despite the obvious death-knell that is climate change knocking at the door of the whitie-western colonialist old boys club nations that are all part of ECHELON/ PRISM and have politicians paid for by the Koch-led fossil fuel industry.

    You want a challenge? Forget going to the moon, cycling up the local hill, or the structural challenge of getting neighbourhood bike lanes installed; how about just getting oil money out of politics, whether local or national, and whatever whitie-western nation you’re in? How about getting oil-money out of the media, and the MSM tuned into the depth and danger of the dishonesty still so prevalent about the risks of life in a world of over 400 PPM GHGs and not even one full degree warming reached yet? Manage that, and the bike lanes will follow, as in Sydney, Australia, and possibly in NYC.

    “It was a generation with a virtually unlimited supply of cheap oil.” Indeed. Absolutely indeed. It was the generation of the ultimate indulgence. Trips to the moon for the sake of a bunch of rocks and a bit of political vision for the sake of national motivation. Uh huh. And we’re the first generation to really start paying for it. Our children won’t have four seasons named summer, fall, winter, spring; they’ll be drought, hurricane, flood, and heat wave.

    Oh, but, maybe bicycles, solar panels, the local vegan mart, and the Great American Dream can reverse the trend of the out-of-control juggernaut for four degrees warming. [*snort*] Let’s hope so.

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