Everywhere I look, stories of our current condition and perilous plight greet my eyes. Economic collapse, massive unemployment, infrastructure degradation, environmental destruction and the not so gradual collapse of life as we know it. On every front we have war and rumors of war, terrorists foreign and domestic, religious jihad, political statement, killer cops, cop killers and those who kill in job lots for whatever reason they choose. Those who provide the weapons and means to do so are as guilty or more guilty than those who do the actual killing. These serious and frightening facts, observations and speculations swamp our sensibilities and hold our attention. They hold our attention, but they limit our vision.
Despite what we are shown and told minute-by-minute, the world is full of intelligent caring people who would welcome a change in our current paradigm. Perhaps they have ideas of how to bring about change, to make our world a new and better place. I do. I will share my idea with you here. This idea requires one significant change in focus now and going forward. I’m proposing a radical shift in thinking. Overall, some of what I propose will lead to long-term changes, which come to fruition in the future or, perhaps the distant future. This is a good thing because it presupposes that we will have a future, distant or otherwise. Still, the actions this change will require yield short-term benefits which address some of the problems I site above. What I’m proposing has the potential to be global, Initially, I’m going to concentrate on my country, the United States of America.
They hold our attention, but they limit our vision.
In our current incarnation as a society, most of us are little more than serfs in the classic sense. Unfortunately, we are more educated and taught to believe we can join the elite through hard work and ambition. Further, we’ve been told our lives should have meaning. Simply living, going through the motions day-by-day, to birth the next generation is not enough. Yet, so much of the time we are engaged in finding, acquiring shelter, food and other necessities for ourselves and our family, we don’t consciously think about our need for meaning. We are so busy living our hectic lives, we have little or no time to worry about our purpose in life, or even if we believe we have a purpose for being here, now. We are aided and abetted by manufacturers and advertisers, who push a steady stream of goods, services and toys, each one better than the previous. We pretend these distractions: playing games where we may feel powerful and the illusions of wealth and power are the same as the reality. Our façade is created and fueled by acquiring the stuff which makes it appear we are successful, that we have have found our reason to be here. This often leaves us feeling empty and deep in debt.
…so busy living our hectic lives, we have no time…
I believe our lives can and do have meaning, whether or not they have purpose or some overarching destiny or fate. I believe individuals, groups and even nations can choose to create a purpose. Though perhaps goal or vision might serves as a better description. I believe our vision, our goal, our purpose should be space exploration with the immediate and long-term benefits it could provide. I believe that rather than curtailing our space program, we should be expanding it. I believe there are many people who see this as a waste of time, money and resources, when we have acute problems here at home. However, such expansion could help us address our problems. While directing our efforts toward a more distant future, we could set short-term goals closer to home. Such projects might include orbiting habitats or colonies on the moon or Mars. Yes, I see you rolling your eyes and scratching your head. Realistically, such projects are years, even decades into the future. How will that help with our current crisis?
…we create focus and generate action.
Choosing a direction for the future of our nation, we create focus and generate action. Consider infrastructure. Our roads, bridges, pipelines and power stations continue to deteriorate. Often, we do not repair or replace this essential technology and equipment until it has already failed. When they fail, they may exact a brutal toll in lost lives, property and livelihood. Cities can be hit incredibly hard by such disasters. This combined with the loss of industries, as manufacturing and associated jobs are shipped offshore, may prove fatal. Unemployment, homelessness and crime rise and aging infrastructures are further neglected. Confidence dwindles and those who can move to better circumstances do, though emotionally torn by their choice.
Perhaps this was the same choice and feeling of those who left Europe and other places to go to the New World. When our ancestors arrived, where they landed was determined by oceanic and geologic configuration. To be feasible, such landings were on the coast with deep-water bays or inlets. Villages were established and, as immigration continued, they became towns and then cities, major ports into this uncharted land. These ports and their importance were determined by default. However, when we are purposely planning to go into space, we can decide where we want our ports to be located and constructed. They might still be located on a coast, but that is not a requirement. Let me give you an example, as well as the benefits accrued from making such a choice.
Say we choose Detroit, though many other cities might serve as well. Detroit has much to recommend it. It’s one of the ten city/metropolitan areas most severely affected by our recent economic recession. It has an industrial base centered on the automobile industry. If we consciously choose Detroit to have a spaceport, we can take the time to plan exactly how we want to achieve this. We will need to clear and restructure our chosen port site, creating jobs. We will need to move in materials and supplies, amping up the freight business in the area and beyond. To facilitate such an undertaking, would inspire and require us to upgrade our roads and bridges, further sparking employment. By requiring all material for this specific project to be made in the United States, we can provide jobs in other areas of the country. This will further boost our economy and our pride in a job well done. All this would spark innovation, something at which we excel, which would create a need for Research and Development facilities.
At the site itself, tarmac will need to be laid and maintained. Rockets, rocket engines, shuttles and freight carriers will need to be constructed. Warehouses and offices will need to be built and occupied. Procedures and guidelines will need to be established and new materials will emerge as we direct our energies to this chosen vision. A byproduct of the need for developing new materials and technologies is that, in time, they will reach consumers. There will be improvements in computers and communications and who knows what else. Time will tell.
I imagine you are wondering how we would pay for such a massive undertaking. I think, other than paying and equipping soldiers in the field and in training on basses around the world, I believe our military budget for one to two years would make a substantial down payment. I believe it would completely pay the initial stages and probably far beyond. We clearly have sufficient guns, tanks, planes and missiles to provide a deterrent to anyone who might think to challenge our sovereignty. Perhaps, the military’s current research personnel could turn their considerable talents to jump start the technical needs of such an endeavor.
I predict such a focused enterprise will inspire other cities and countries to follow suit. We should encourage them and offer any help we can. World population is expected to reach 9,000,000,000 by 2050, which is only 35 years away. We are going to need to develop ways to expand outward and disperse so many people. As in past eras, there will be those eager to explore, to discover places that no human has ever seen or imagined. Some will take a risk simply to believe they have a chance of living life on their own terms. There will be individuals and groups who want to find new opportunities, to create communities which meet their needs and to escape real or perceived persecution. While that may be in the far future, many of our speculative fiction scenarios have the possibility of becoming reality. In the meantime, we can help ourselves, our cities and nation to thrive and prosper. We can provide the same chance to acquire wealth and power that is currently the purview of arms dealers and war profiteers. We can allow senators and congressmen to provide jobs and industries in their home districts. They simply won’t be producing what they have in the past.
…this is my idea. What’s yours?
By making a choice, we can turn away from our war machine. As our war-driven economy is replaced, and the lives of young men and women are no longer sacrificed to anyone’s ideas or belief, we can inspire others to join us in a glorious quest. If not this quest, then some other. I’m simply sharing my idea of a way to move forward to a more positive future. I don’t think this will be easy or without conflict, but it could be without war. And for those who think I’m naive or hopelessly out of touch, I say, this is my idea. What’s yours?
Also Published on the Daily KOS
Philip Brent Harris Brent Harris Philip Brent
On my blog, The Pen’s Might, and art sites, Brent Harris Fine Art, and Philip Brent Digital Art, under separate names, I strive to write and display art which resonates as well as appeals, which adds color, beauty and joy to life, and perhaps brings a smile to your day or helps you question your long-held assumptions. I hope my writing and my art makes you think, smile, laugh, or cry, that it touches you viscerally, reaching your mind, body, and spirit. With so much turmoil in our world and uncertainty in our lives, my art is intended to remind us of the beauty and goodness in the world, but also to challenge us. My writing and art questions our ideas and beliefs and encourages the artist and the viewer to see the world in new ways. Through my choice of unexpected subject or execution, I attempt to shatter our ingrained expectations, the scripts we live. Only when we gain a new perspective are we able to change.
Clicking on the links below, you will find more of my art, as well prints, greeting cards and gift items.
Featured on: Da Mai Sin 1979, the Venetian family brand which offers different types of products, from oil paintings to T-shirts, combining great design and fun.