From the Earth to the Moon

TODAY’S COMICS:
Action Comics #831 – It’s a slugfest, but a well-written slugfest. Although for some reason, Jimmy Olsen looks about 12.
Rann-Thanagar War #5 – Another one bites the dust.
JSA #77 – A bit disappointing considering this is normally one of my fave titles.

Currently reading:
Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

I don’t know why this should be so, but, having read in Moondust that only nine of the twelve men who walked on the moon are still alive, I’m a bit unsettled. I think it’s because, as the book mentions, the moon landings are often seen as the last optimistic act of the twentieth century. In a world that’s currently dealing with everything from terrorism to climate change to hurricanes, the idea of a major act of optimism is highly attractive. Part of me wants to see humans walk on Mars, simply because it would be a great historical act that doesn’t involve people killing each other.

Of course, there are the arguments against the space programme. It costs a heck of a lot of money when there are issues down here on Earth that need fixing. To be honest, I sympathise with that view, although I ask a counter-question – why is it a choice between the exploration of space and the elimination of poverty, say? Why’s it never a choice between space exploration and fighting wars? Or space exploration and the continual propping up of industries that are hurting the planet?

We’re a clever species when we put our minds to it, but we seem to get locked into cycles of destruction. We seize on anything, be it religion, or politics, or race, or land to perpetuate the darker angels of our natures. Fundamentalisms that have forgetten the fundamentals add fuel to the fire. The West spends more on helping cows to live well than they do on aid to the Third World. Knowledge increases exponentially, but I’m not so convinced about wisdom – to paraphrase Smashmouth, our brains get smart but our hearts get dumb.

So I think that’s why I’m interested in the space programme, why I’d like to see us land on Mars (or something) one day. A quarter of those who’ve walked on the moon are now gone and the rest are getting no younger, and the last optimistic act of the twentieth century slips into history, and where’s the first great optimistic act of the 21st Century, which is already getting dominated by the war on terror and climate squinkiness? Well, there is one that I can think of off the top of my head – the Make Poverty History campaign, which I also hope is a great success. I don’t want humanity to have to chose between great scientific and exploratory acts and straightening out geopolitical structures that condemn millions to poverty. I want us to prioritise and do both, and sacrifice some of the other things that have scarred our collective psyche for far too long.

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